Bayer 04 Leverkusen on Monday cruised past Werder Bremen 4-1 as the Bundesliga completed its first full round of matches after resuming the season.
German soccer has so far avoided major pitfalls in three days of games following a two-month suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some of Leverkusen’s players clustered together after scoring in an empty Weserstadion in Bremen, rather than opting for the Bundesliga’s recommended celebrations of minimal physical contact.
Werder were without one player who was isolating at home after someone in his personal life tested positive for the coronavirus. The club on Friday last week said that the player, who has not been named, tested negative.
The Bundesliga faces its next test this week as the players return home ahead of the weekend’s matches. The squads spent the seven days leading up to the first games in group quarantine in hotels.
Both Leverkusen and Werder kept up their form before the break, with Leverkusen staying six league games unbeaten and closing in on the UEFA Champions League places, while Werder remained stuck in the relegation zone.
Werder were still struggling for fitness after two months without games, defender Theodor Gebre Selassie said in televised comments, as they edged closer to dropping out of the German top division for the first time since 1981.
The first three goals came in the space of five minutes.
Kai Havertz headed Leverkusen into the lead in the 28th minute from a Moussa Diaby cross, but Werder hit back when Gebre Selassie deflected a corner into the net.
Werder’s defense failed to mark Havertz for the first goal and did so again for the second as he headed in at a free-kick.
Leverkusen made sure of the win in the second half when Mitchell Weiser headed in from another Diaby cross and Kerem Demirbay chipped the goalkeeper.
Leverkusen handed a start to January signing Florian Wirtz at just 17 years, 15 days, making him the club’s youngest Bundesliga player. That broke a record that previously belonged to Havertz.
The local government had been skeptical about hosting the game, although it let it go ahead.
Bremen Mayor Andreas Bovenschulte on Monday told TV channel ARD that it was a “very problematic signal to society” to allow soccer at a time when the public was being encouraged to adhere to social distancing regulations.
“We’re allowing major sports events in which it’s part of the routine for 22 people to come into close contact, and not even from two households, but from 22 different households,” he said.
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