Hungry Hernández enjoys Leverkusen starter

Javier Hernández scored on his first Bayer Leverkusen start and told UEFA.com that there is more to come as he helped inspire the 4-1 opening defeat of BATE Borisov.

Javier Hernández enjoys his goal
Javier Hernández enjoys his goal ©AFP/Getty Images

Given his team's lack of firepower in recent games, Roger Schmidt's decision to hand Javier Hernández his full Bayer Leverkusen debut against BATE Borisov may well have been one of the easiest in his coaching career.

The Werkself went into Wednesday's encounter without a goal in their last two matches. But they rediscovered their scoring touch with a comfortable 4-1 victory that moves them two points clear of Roma and Barcelona at the top of the nascent UEFA Champions League Group E.

Hernández, a summer signing from Manchester United, was heavily involved from the start, linking well with Karim Bellarabi, Kevin Kampl and Admir Mehmedi in the hosts' fast and fluid attack. The 27-year-old capped an energetic performance with his team's third just before the hour mark, before being replaced by Stefan Kiessling with 18 minutes remaining.

"I'm obviously very pleased," Hernández told UEFA.com. "To win 4-1 in a Champions League match is always a good result. Of course I'm happy with my goal, but first and foremost I'm pleased with the victory. The goal gives me confidence and I'm going to keep working as hard as I can to score more and help the team. I'm still very hungry."

Those last four words in particular will be music to the ears of coach Schmidt, who said at Tuesday's pre-match press conference that the Mexico forward had "taken a step further" since Leverkusen's 1-0 league defeat by Darmstadt on Saturday. Hernández himself is refusing to get carried away, though, insisting that he is still acclimatising to life at Leverkusen.

"It's in my mind to do my best, to try and do what the coach tells me to do on the pitch, and get used to the way of playing and my team-mates," he said. "I'm trying my best on and off the pitch to get results, and this is a very important result for us to start the Champions League."

Hernández gets his goal
Hernández gets his goal©Getty Images

Indeed, with games against Barcelona and Roma still to come in Group E, Leverkusen will face sterner tests than they did against Aleksandr Yermakovich's side on Wednesday evening. As Hakan Çalhanoğlu pointed out after the final whistle, however, you can only beat what is put in front of you.

"We were determined to get a positive result today," said the Turkish international, who continued his fine start to the campaign with Leverkusen's second and fourth goals. "BATE aren't the strongest opponents in our group, but we've done very well to beat them in such impressive fashion."

BATE may not be Leverkusen's most daunting obstacle on the path to the knockout phase, but with a fully-fit Hernández looking increasingly settled in his new surroundings, Schmidt's side are a force to be reckoned with in Europe. Based on Wednesday's evidence, the former Real Madrid man is a prime candidate to start at the Camp Nou in a fortnight's time.

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