Rangers’ Europa League rivals Bayer Leverkusen dazzled on their return to Bundesliga action on Monday evening with a 4-1 hammering of Werder Bremen.
The Gers faced off against Peter Bosz’s outfit in mid-March in the first leg of the Europa League last 16, in what proved to be the final fixture played in Scotland before the suspension of all sport amid the global health crisis.
The Premiership season has since been ended and as yet, it’s unsure whether or not the second leg of that tie will ever be played.
However, action returned in the top two domestic leagues in Germany over the weekend, with Leverkusen involved in the final fixture of the gameweek.
After all players and staff isolated in a secluded hotel just outside Leverkusen in the days leading up to the fixture, the Werkself travelled to Bremen to face a team who are second-bottom in the table and facing the prospect of a first relegation in 40 years [Bundesliga.com].
Neither side had played a match for over two months but their performances reflected their respective league positions.
Leverkusen took the lead in the 28th minute through impressive young skipper Kai Havertz, who headed home an excellent Moussa Diaby cross from close range.
Werder responded almost instantly with former Czech Republic international Theodor Gebre Selassie helping a set-piece beyond Lukas Hradecky.
Havertz wasn’t prepared to let his side drop points, though, and he restored the advantage three minutes later, heading home an enticing Kerem Demirbay free-kick. That’s now four in three matches for the 20-year-old, who stroked a penalty past Allan McGregor at Ibrox in the final match before the break.
The visitors ran away with it in the second half, with some silky interplay leading to goals from Mitchell Weiser and Demirbay and ultimately, to a 4-1 victory.
Werder’s defending was abysmal at times but Leverkusen were impressive and offered a reminder that if the Europa League is played to a conclusion, the odds are firmly stacked against the Gers to progress to the quarter-finals.