Leverkusen's Victor Boniface celebrates scoring a goal, during the German Bundesliga football match between Bayer Leverkusen and SV Darmstadt, at the BayArena in Leverkusen, Germany, Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023. Photo: AP
Boniface, who arrived from Belgian side Union Saint-Gilloise in the summer, opened the scoring with a superb solo effort, slicing through the Darmstadt defence before elegantly chipping the 'keeper.
Yet to claim a point in two matches after returning to the top division this season, Darmstadt equalised shortly after, Oscar Vilhelmsson tapping in from close range.
Argentine World Cup winner Exequiel Palacios scored straight after half-time, his shot taking two fortunate deflections on the way to goal.
Leverkusen then put the game to bed with two goals in six minutes -- another for Boniface and one for Germany winger Jonas Hofmann, his first for his new club since moving from Borussia Moenchengladbach in the summer.
A late Adam Hlozek goal sealed the clinical victory, which continues Leverkusen's stunning form under manager Xabi Alonso, who took over in October 2022.
In Saturday's late game, Bayern Munich can overtake Leverkusen with a big win at bogey side Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Stuttgart continued their stunning early season home form, beating local rivals Freiburg 5-0, the same scoreline as their opening win over Bochum.
Chris Fuehrich and Serhou Guirassy bagged doubles and Enzo Millot scored a late goal, helping Stuttgart rebound from last week's 5-1 thrashing by Leipzig.
Guirassy now has five goals in three games for a side which needed to win a two-legged playoff against second-division Hamburg last season to avoid relegation.
Elsewhere, Werder Bremen put the departure of star striker Niclas Fuellkrug behind them, putting four goals past a hapless and scoreless Mainz at home.
Goalless in their opening two games, Bremen had four different players on the scoresheet as they claimed their first points of the season.
Hoffenheim came from behind to beat Wolfsburg 3-1 at home, John Brooks, Maximilian Beier and Robert Skov getting on the scoresheet after visiting striker Tiago Tomas opened the scoring.
In central Bavaria, Augsburg led twice but were pegged back both times by goals from Bochum's Takuma Asano as the sides played out a 2-2 draw.
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