Berlin (AFP) – Teenager Florian Wirtz inspired Bayer Leverkusen to a 3-1 win at Stuttgart on Sunday despite the visitors playing with only 10 men for an hour after Robert Andrich was sent off for a first-half red card.
Wirtz, already a full Germany international who turned 18 last May, slotted home Leverkusen’s third goal to kill off Stuttgart’s fightback after Andrich saw red with only 30 minutes played.
Leverkusen raced into a 2-0 lead after goals by Andrich and Patrik Schick, but Stuttgart pulled one back by Belgium attacking midfielder Orel Mangala before Wirtz grabbed the winner 20 minutes from time.
The win lifts Leverkusen to third in the table, three points behind leaders Bayern Munich who went top on Saturday after a 7-0 thrashing of Bochum.
Stuttgart are down in 14th with just four points from their first five games.
Having lost a 4-3 thriller at home to Dortmund last weekend, Leverkusen flew out of the gates at Stuttgart by pressing the hosts into yielding possession which led to Andrich heading in a cross after just two minutes.
Wirtz then conjured up his fourth assist in as many league games, controlling the ball at speed and providing a simple pass for Schick to put Leverkusen 2-0 up with 19 minutes gone.
The game’s momentum briefly swung Stuttgart’s way after Andrich lunged into a poorly-timed tackle with his studs clipping the left knee of Tanguy Coulibaly who missed the end of last season after tearing ligaments in the same joint.
The referee initially booked Andrich for the foul, but soon reached for the red card after watching replays.
Confidence flowed through the Stuttgart ranks and when their striker Omar Marmoush had a header saved, Mangala tapped in the rebound to make it 2-1 at the break.
Despite the numerical disadvantage, Leverkusen rallied as Moussa Diaby twice went close before Wirtz got in behind the defence and calmly slotted his shot past Stuttgart goalkeeper Florian Mueller.