Two goals in the last ten minutes settled an entertaining Bundesliga encounter 4-2 in second-placed Bayer Leverkusen’s favour against second-bottom Stuttgart at the BayArena this afternoon.
The struggling visitors had looked on course for a point when first Martin Harnik and then Zdravko Kuzmanovic cancelled out strikes from Stefan Kiessling and Gonzalo Castro.
But Stefan Reinartz put Bayer ahead for a third time with nine minutes remaining and then Kiessling’s second in stoppage time made sure of the points.
It took only seven minutes for the deadlock to be broken, Kiessling side-footing home at the near post from Sidney Sam’s right-wing cross.
The lead lasted only nine minutes, though. Cacau set up Harnik to lash into the bottom-right corner to get the Swabians back on level terms.
Stuttgart goalkeeper Sven Ulreich made a good save to parry a Castro shot four minutes before the break following Michal Kadlec’s left-wing cross, but the rebound fell kindly for Castro and he made no mistake at the second attempt.
Once again, Bayer were not ahead for long, with Kuzmanovic surging down the left wing and producing a fantastic shot from 25 yards which sailed into the top-left corner.
However, when Jupp Heynckes’ side – needing to win to get back within ten points of leaders Borussia Dortmund – went ahead for a third time there was no way back.
Reinartz headed Castro’s corner into the top-right corner in the 81st minute and then Kiessling’s half-volley from Sam’s cross sealed matters in added time.