|I||Sparta Praha||19:00||H. Kiryat Shmona|
Bayer 04 Leverkusen condemned SK Rapid Wien to their third successive defeat in UEFA Europa League Group K with a dominant display in the Austrian capital.
A tepid first half came to life when Philipp Wollscheid headed in the opener eight minutes before the break. The German side – now four points clear of third-placed Rosenborg BK – ended the game as a contest with goals just before the hour from Gonzalo Castro and Karim Bellarabi, the former applying gloss to a polished performance with a late fourth.
Leverkusen's cause was initially hampered by the early loss of Michal Kadlec, injured in a challenge with Muhammed Ildiz. The defender's departure was a rare incident of note in an opening in which both sides, snapping into tackles, failed to fashion anything of substance.
Sascha Lewandowski's team gradually moved through the gears, though, a period of pressure ending with Stefan Kiessling turning wide a near-post cross from the sprightly Bellarabi.
Kadlec's replacement, Lars Bender, then cleared the crossbar from distance before sliding in Kiessling, who was denied a fifth goal in four games by the outrushing Lukas Königshofer. That merely delayed the inevitable. A minute later Wollscheid powered in Castro's outswinging corner.
Rapid's industry was not being matched by productivity in the final third, so much so that Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno did not muddy his knees until Terrence Boyd tested his handling midway through the second half.
All the while,the visitors continued to dictate proceedings with impunity, putting the result beyond doubt with two goals in three minutes. Castro doubled the lead, finishing off a give-and-go with Bender, before Kiessling found Bellarabi, who powered a shot through Königshofer's legs.
Only a save from Königshofer, standing tall to thwart Bellarabi, prevented further punishment. Castro, however, inflicted more in added time by sweeping in Junior Fernándes's cut-back.
©UEFA.com 1998-2011. All rights reserved.