Nigeria international Victor Boniface came off the bench to score yet again while Patrik Schick grabbed a sensational hat-trick as Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen saw out a glorious 2023 in style on Matchday 16.
Unbeaten league leaders Leverkusen kicked off against the last side to beat them in the Bundesliga amid a noisy, festive atmosphere at the BayArena. Visitors Bochum showed their strong recent form is no accident with a high-intensity start that saw them get the better of the early play.
An even encounter after 30 minutes was suddenly seized by one man, however, with Schick smashing a sensational first-half hat-trick on his first Bundesliga start in 14 months. The first came from the penalty spot after he was brought down by Manuel Riemann, the second was smashed in after Jeremie Frimpong centred, and the third was headed in from a corner in stoppage time.
The burst of three goals before the break gave Leverkusen a superb cushion to take into the second period. The Werkself were content to pass the ball around and patiently seek further opportunities, which duly came via Frimpong and Jonas Hofmann. Robert Andrich then headed the ball into the net only to be denied by an offside flag.
Victor Boniface turned in the fourth within minutes of replacing Schick as a second-half substitute, latching on to Wirtz’s neat through-ball. Leverkusen’s 25-game unbeaten run at the start of a campaign is the longest in German history, beating Hamburg’s streak in 1982-83. Boniface has now scored 10 Bundesliga goals this season from 16 matches and provided seven assists.