Written by Alex Baker
Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez was forced to leave the field in the 68th minute of play during Bayer Leverkusen’s eventual 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday. The Mexican international received an unintentional stamp to his left knee and was seen limping around the pitch before eventually being replaced by Kevin Kampl.
Moments later, Kampl put Leverkusen ahead with his first touch of the ball. Julian Brandt doubled the home side’s lead in the 76th, minute before Karim Bellarabi added the third in the final minute of regulation time.
But despite having missed out on the goals this weekend, it’s Chicharito who’s been the leading man in Leverkusen’s push into third place and a potential berth in next season’s Champions League. His 16 goals in the Bundesliga and 25 in all competitions make him Leverkusen’s leading scorer on the season.
After falling out of favor with Manchester United boss, Louis van Gaal and failing to make a real impact at Real Madrid, Hernandez’s career appeared to be at a crossroads last summer.
His move to the Bundesliga was considered somewhat surprising at the time. But with a football pedigree that also includes a stint with Real Madrid, Hernandez was a crowd and fan favorite from the moment he first signed for Leverkusen. The 27-year-old Hernandez has literally taken the Bundesliga by storm and his presence has made the appearance of Mexican flags and sombreros a regular occurrence around the BayArena in the suburbs of Cologne.
Currently sitting fourth in the Bundesliga scoring charts, behind the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Thomas Muller, Chicharito is already the highest-scoring Mexican to have ever plied his trade in Germany.
While there has been no official word on Chicharito’s injury, ESPNFC has reported that it looks to be relatively minor. This is good news for Leverkusen, who will look to consolidate their hold on third place in a difficult pair of upcoming fixtures against Schalke 04 and Hertha Berlin.
(Photos by Michael Janosz, Kieran McManus and ISI)