Down two-nil in Saturday’s top of the table clash, Bayer Leverkusen made a remarkable second half comeback to solidify their place in the Bundesliga’s top three.
Bayer’s six minute goal blitzkrieg was capped off by Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez in the 60th minute. The Mexican international’s go-ahead goal came during Bayer’s brilliant counter attack, as Chicharito scored from an acute angle. His game winning goal has now put distance between the club and the chasing pack; with five points between them and Hertha Berlin.
Saturday’s performance was just another in a long line of brilliant Chicharito matches in 2015/16. With 17 goals in 26 league matches – he scored an additional five in the Champions League – for Bayer, Chicharito currently sits fourth in Bundesliga scoring.
According to WhoScored.com, the striker has contributed 38% of the team’s 45 goals. Free from injury and used mostly as a starter, Chicharito’s single season goal production has been the best of his career.
Bayer was on the back foot for much of the time against Shalke and were outclassed for the opening hour of the match. The striker was kept under wraps for once, but Chicharito was able to score from his only shot on Saturday.
While he was unable to get free of his marker for much of the 90 minutes, he did collect an 80% pass success rate, per WhoScored.com. The striker completed 16 of 20 passes as Bayer’s only striker in coach Roger Schmidt’s 4-2-3-1 formation.
Manchester United’s regret
Despite being an important member of Sir Alex Ferguson’s United team and tallying 33 English Premier League goals, Chicharito saw his importance fall when the Scotsman retired.
Deemed as surplus to requirements under Louis Van Gaal, the striker was sent on loan to Real Madrid in the summer of 2014. There Chicharito notched eight goals and four assists, appearing mostly in substitute appearances. Remarkably, those eight goals and four assists came in a mere 1,179 minutes of action across La Liga and the Champions League. That calculates to just over 13 full matches.
Although successful at Madrid, Chicharito signed a permanent deal with Bayer on August 31, 2015. Signed for £7.3 million ($10.5m), Chicharito has shown he is not just a super-sub.
In late-2015, former Chicharito teammate Rio Ferdinand questioned Van Gaal’s decision making in regards to the Mexican.
“He guaranteed you goals, even when he was rotated between being a starter and a substitute,” Ferdinand told the Mirror. “But Van Gaal didn’t seem to know how to get the best out of him or wasn’t prepared to adapt to the little man’s way of playing.”
Now a staple at the BayArena, Chicharito has become a big hit with supporters. Bayer have now won five games on the trot, and don’t look likely to end that run as long as Chicharito is banging in the goals.