Nigerian striker Boniface hits a brace as Bayer Leverkusen cruise past Heidenheim

AP , Sunday 24 Sep 2023

Victor Boniface scored twice as Bayer Leverkusen kept up its strong start to the season with a 4-1 win over Hoffenheim to move level on points with Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga standings on Sunday.

Victor Boniface
Bayer Leverkusen s Nigerian forward #22 Victor Boniface kicks the ball to score the 3-1 goal via penalty during the German first division Bundesliga football match between Bayer Leverkusen and FC Heidenheim in Leverkusen, western Germany, on September 24, 2023. AFP

Nigeria striker Boniface has scored six goals in five Bundesliga games — and eight from seven in all competitions — since joining Leverkusen from Belgian club Union Saint-Gilloise. That puts him behind only Bayern's Harry Kane and Stuttgart's Serhou Guirassy.

Leverkusen under coach Xabi Alonso are unbeaten this season, the only blemish on an otherwise-perfect record being a dramatic 2-2 draw with Bayern last week.

Leverkusen dominated from the off with its slick passing style and Boniface opened the scoring in the ninth minute when he picked up a pass from Exequiel Palacios with his back to goal, turned and beat defender Tim Siersleben and slotted the ball past goalkeeper Kevin Müller.

Heidenheim leveled with a goal from Eren Dinkçi in the 58th, despite an apparent foul by Siersleben in the buildup, before Leverkusen reasserted control with three goals in 19 minutes.

A through-ball from Palacios split the Heidenheim defense for Jonas Hofmann to score in the 63rd, before Boniface converted a penalty following a foul from Lennard Maloney on Alejandro Grimaldo.

Leverkusen finished off the game in style, transitioning from defense to attack with two pinpoint long-range passes before Amine Adli scored the fourth with a lob over Müller.

Eintracht Frankfurt had its fourth Bundesliga draw in a row as its game with Freiburg finished 0-0 with new German national team coach Julian Nagelsmann watching.

Freiburg goalkeeper Noah Atubolu made some key saves to keep Frankfurt from leading. Substitute Junior Adamu thought he'd won the game for Freiburg with a stoppage-time header but it was ruled out for a narrow offside.

Freiburg nearly qualified for the Champions League last season but has had a mixed start to 2022-23 and is winless in three league games.

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