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Chicharito strikes as Leverkusen rout BATE

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Leverkusen's Mexican striker Javier Hernandez celebrates scoring during the UEFA Champions League group E first leg football match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Bate Borisov in Leverkusen, western Germany on September 16, 2015. PHOTO/AFP

Leverkusen’s Mexican striker Javier Hernandez celebrates scoring during the UEFA Champions League group E first leg football match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Bate Borisov in Leverkusen, western Germany on September 16, 2015. PHOTO/AFP

LEVERKUSEN, September 17- Javier Hernandez scored on his first start for Bayer Leverkusen in their 4-1 rout of BATE Borisov on Wednesday as the Germans topped Group E ahead of Barcelona.

Turkey midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu netted twice in the rout as Bayer put the Belarus side to the sword in their opening Champions League tie.

Swiss striker Admir Mehmedi gave Bayer an early lead, but Serbia midfielder Nemanja Milunovic headed BATE level on 13 minutes. Calhanoglu then put the hosts 2-1 up after the break before Mexico’s Hernandez scored Leverkusen’s third.

Calhanoglu netted a late penalty as the hosts dominated, using their 65 percent possession to fire in 20 shots on goal to BATE’s paltry two efforts.

Hernandez’s goal was no more than the 27-year-old ex-Manchester United and Real Madrid forward deserved as ‘Chicharito’ justified replacing Stefan Kiessling in Leverkusen’s starting line-up with an impressive display.

Having made his debut off the bench in Leverkusen’s shock 1-0 Bundesliga defeat to Darmstadt last Saturday, Hernandez received a standing ovation from the BayArena crowd when he made way for Germany striker Kiessling on 72 minutes.

After Barcelona’s 1-1 draw at Roma, Leverkusen’s victory is a confidence booster ahead of their clash with the defending champions at the Camp Nou in a fortnight.

However, the win came at a cost as Leverkusen captain Lars Bender limped off in clear discomfort on 44 minutes with a knee injury to be replaced by fellow Germany international Christoph Kramer.

Leverkusen took an early lead when Switzerland international Mehmedi curled in Hernandez’s cross off the outside of his boot with just four minutes gone.

BATE drew level when Milunovic headed home off a Leverkusen defender which wrong-footed home goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

Calhanoglu restored Leverkusen’s lead just after the break when he drove home Karim Bellarabi’s cross on 47 minutes before Hernandez scored his first goal in the Bayer shirt when he slotted home Kevin Kampl’s final pass on 59 minutes.

It turned into a rout on 76 minutes when left-back Filip Mladenovic handled and Calhanoglu hit an unstoppable penalty into the left-hand corner.

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