Bayer 04 Leverkusen 2-0 FC Zenit
Second-half goals secured successive home wins for the Werkself who move top of Group C despite ending with ten men.
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• Leverkusen move top of Group C with second straight home win
• Giulio Donati breaks the deadlock with a fizzing right-foot finish
• Kyriakos Papdopoulos doubles lead moments after coming on
• Hakan Çalhanoğlu stands out with both assists, Wendell dismissed late on
• Next games: Zenit v Leverkusen (4 November)
Bayer 04 Leverkusen stole a march in the Group C standings with a well-earned 2-0 victory at home to FC Zenit.
Given the attacking prowess on both sides there was little danger of a tepid encounter and the two teams set to task in typically positive fashion. Both sets of wide men looked particularly lively, with Hulk and Danny combining well early on for Zenit and Karim Bellarabi and Son Heung-Min incisive for Leverkusen.
Yet for all the high-octane pressing clear-cut chances were kept to a minimum, save for an Emir Spahić header which went wide from a corner. Wendell, in for Tin Jedvaj at left-back for Bayer, did a magnificent job of containing his fellow Brazilian Hulk, who was limited to a thunderous free-kick that was deflated by the wall.
José Rondón has seven goals in the Russian Premier League this season but his threat was conspicuous by its absence and as the half matured it was Leverkusen who continued to gain the upper hand. Edging towards the whistle, it seemed a breakthrough might be forthcoming, only for Yuri Lodygin to keep out Son's stinging strike with his feet and then get down well to save a Hakan Çalhanoğlu header.
Hulk responded with a fearsome long-range effort that whistled wide but the sides went in goalless at the break. Counterattacks were traded by the minute after the restart, but just as the chance of a breakthrough seemed to be dwindling, Giulio Donati struck a sweet right-foot finish from the right edge of the box to get Leverkusen off the mark.
It took just five minutes for the Bundesliga outfit to double their advantage as Çalhanoğlu claimed his second assist, floating over a free-kick from which Kyriakos Papadopoulos – brought on only moments earlier as a substitute – headed in the home side's second and his first ever UEFA Champions League goal.
Having thrown away a three-goal lead against VfB Stuttgart in the Bundesliga at the weekend, Leverkusen were not about to make a similar mistake and, despite the otherwise excellent Wendell receiving his marching orders for a second bookable offence late on, Roger Schmidt's side saw out the victory to go top of the section and set themselves up nicely for the return fixture in St Petersburg in two weeks time.