Bayer Leverkusen consolidated second spot in the Bundesliga with an important 2-0 victory over third-placed Hannover 96 on Friday night.
Arturo Vidal and Simon Rolfes struck in the first half to make sure of the victory for the hosts at BayArena, sending Josef Heynckes’ Leverkusen five points clear of Hannover and within eight points of leaders Werder Bremen.
Leverkusen’s Stefan Kiessling had a shot on goal blocked by Christian Schulz, before he teed up Vidal to fire a left-footed strike from outside the 18-yard box into the bottom right corner to give the hosts the advantage on 21 minutes.
Michael Ballack spurned a golden chance to double the lead minutes later when he missed a free header wide.
But three minutes before the half-time break, 1-0 became 2-0 when defender Gonzalo Castro’s through ball set up Rolfes to curl in a left-foot shot into the far right corner.