LEVERKUSEN – Michael Ballack came off the bench to score in injury time and secure Bayer Leverkusen's 2-0 victory over Genk in their Champions League match on Wednesday.
Lars Bender put Leverkusen ahead after 30 minutes but the German team could not feel safe until the veteran Ballack struck.
The win gave Leverkusen its first three points in Group E. Genk has one.
''After three straight defeats (in all competitions), we were almost obliged to win this one,'' Leverkusen coach Robin Dutt said. ''Ballack's goal was important for the team.''
Anele Ngcongca's half clearance fell perfectly to Ballack on the edge of the penalty area and the 35-year-old midfielder controlled the ball with his chest before unleashing a volley that took a deflection off the unfortunate Ngcongca for Ballack to score his 16th Champions League goal in the first minute of stoppage time.
Ballack had come on in the 80th minute after missing last weekend's loss at Bayern Munich because of a cold.
Bender's goal in the 30th also came after a fortunate bounce. Nadson intercepted a pass intended for Stefan Kiessling but the ball bounced off to Bender, who slotted it inside the far post.
Both teams had chances to score.
In the 13th, Genk defender Jeroen Simaeys headed over the crossbar after a corner. Leverkusen replied with a neat move that saw forward Andre Schuerrle sending the ball high over the bar from close range.
Daniel Toezser's excellent through pass found Genk teammate Marvin Ogunjimi, but he couldn't get full power behind the shot and Bernd Leno dived to stop it.
After Bender's goal, Sydney Sam had a good effort stopped by Genk goalkeeper Laszlo Koeteles.
Leno nearly gifted Genk an equalizer in the 35th by clearing the ball straight at Jelle Vossen, but his cross inside was cleared by Oemer Toprak.
Schuerrle again responded for Leverkusen and again missed the target.
Ogunjimi should have scored for Genk at the far post from a corner in the 42nd but headed wide although he was left unmarked.
Schuerrle faked three defenders to create space for a shot but hit the leg of goalkeeper Koeteles in the 63rd, before Leno made a superb reflex save to keep out an unmarked Ogunjimi's powerful header.