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Bremen duo Kruse, Rashica shock buoyant Leverkusen

Berlin (AFP) – Werder Bremen forwards Max Kruse and Milot Rashica combined to arrest Bayer Leverkusen’s charge up the Bundesliga table by scoring the goals in Sunday’s shock 3-1 away victory.  

Between them, Bremen centre-forward Kruse and winger Rashica are on fire with six goals and three assists in the last four league games and the duo did the damage against Leverkusen.

Bremen captain Kruse gave his mid-table side the lead on 13 minutes at Leverkusen’s BayArena, hitting the bottom corner after good play in the build-up by midfielder Maximilian Eggestein, in the Germany squad for the first time for Wednesday’s home friendly against Serbia.

Under new coach Peter Bosz, Leverkusen have shot up from mid-table to sixth and the Europa League places by winning six of their last seven league games, but with playmaker Kai Havertz benched for the first half, they struggled. 

Bremen doubled their lead on 37 minutes when Kruse played Rashica into the box and the 22-year-old winger grabbed his third goal in two games after a brace in last week’s 4-2 rout of Schalke.   

At 2-0 down, Havertz came on for the second half, but despite his linking up with Germany winger Julian Brandt, Bremen’s defence held up in open play.

Leverkusen’s dead ball expert Leon Bailey blasted home a free-kick on 75 minutes, but with the hosts hunting an equaliser, Bremen counter-attacked deep in added time.

An adventurous dribble by Bailey broke down on the edge of the Bremen box and the ball was moved quickly upfield as Kruse cut in to drill home their third goal in the 95th minute.

The result lifts Bremen to eighth and leaves Leverkusen sixth, just five points from the Champions League places with eight rounds of matches left.

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