03.02.2023 23:29 h

Berisha fires Augsburg to win over Leverkusen

Augsburg striker Mergim Berisha scored a crucial second-half goal to secure a 1-0 home German Bundesliga win over Bayer Leverkusen on Friday.

Berisha headed in from a corner after 55 minutes to help an injury-hit Augsburg to just their sixth win of the season.

It was a second-straight league loss for Leverkusen, who had put together five consecutive wins to push themselves into contention for the European placings.

Chances were few in a first half played in teeming Bavarian rain.

Leverkusen's French forward Moussa Diaby had Augsburg goalkeeper Rafal Gikiewicz beaten in the 30th minute, but his floating strike hit the upright.

Augsburg took the lead ten minutes into the second half, teenage midfielder Arne Engels curled in a corner, finding Berisha unmarked in the box.

Berisha headed the ball past Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky with the goal Berisha's sixth for Augsburg since the German striker joined on a season-long loan from Turkish club Fenerbahce in August.

Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso brought on creative midfielder Florian Wirtz to try and spark his struggling attack and the German teenager looked sharp, creating a number of chances behind the Augsburg defence.

With a little over ten minutes to go, Alonso brought on English forward Callum Hudson-Odoi but the Chelsea loanee was unable to find a breakthrough as Leverkusen fell to a second successive league loss for the first time under Alonso.

The Leverkusen manager said his side was struggling to find penetration without injured striker Patrik Schick.

"We don't have a striker, a number nine and a striker is important to attack and cause problems for the centre backs," the former Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid player said.

"Hopefully it will soon be fine -- we are trying to find a solution."

Leverkusen midfielder Robert Andrich told German broadcaster DAZN that his side had "taken a step backwards".

"Augsburg were a bit faster and more venomous than us in the second half," he said.

Even Berisha was surprised with the amount of space given to him by the Leverkusen defenders, saying "I didn't even have an opponent. They left me free."

Leverkusen sit in ninth place, but could end the weekend as low as 12th depending on other results.

For Augsburg, the win was just their second since early October but took them five points clear of the relegation playoff spot.