Berlin, Germany | XINHUA | Bayer Leverkusen put six past Nice to wrap up all three points on home soil at its opening encounter in Europa League’s Group C on Thursday.
Leverkusen started all guns blazing and needed only 11 minutes to break the deadlock as Leon Bailey’s perfectly timed through ball allowed Nadiem Amiri to beat Nice’s goalkeeper Walter Benitez into the far post corner.
Only five minutes later, the “Werkself” doubled its lead after Julian Baumgartlinger’s lob into the box found Lucas Alario, who hammered the ball from a tight angle into the roof of the net.
The hosts continued on the front foot and created chances through Bailey and Moussa Diaby but Benitez was on guard to prevent his side from swallowing a third goal before the break.
Nice grew in confidence and was able to halve the deficit with 31 minutes gone when Amine Gouiri’s strike caught Leverkusen custodian Lukas Hradecky flat-footed following a counterattack.
The visitors gained momentum but were unlucky though as Hassane Kamara’s rattled only the woodwork in the 41st minute.
Leverkusen ensured a perfect start into the second half as Exequiel Palacios nicked the ball from Morgan Schneiderlin at Nice’s edge of the box before Diaby tapped home to take the wind out of the visitor’s sails.
Things went from bad to worse for the French outfit when Karim Bellarabi snatched his brace in quick succession with one hammer from 18 meters in the 79th minute, and another one from 25 meters in the 83rd minute.
Despite having sealed the deal ahead of time, Peter Bosz kept it bowling and made it 6-1 as Florian Wirtz made the most of Diaby’s cross into the box with three minutes remaining.
Nice showed a sign of life in the dying seconds of the game as Alexis Claude Maurice scored a consolation goal.
With the victory, Leverkusen captures first place in Group C followed by Hapoel Beer-Sheva FC, SK Slavia Praha and OGC Nice.