Xabi Alonso speaks out after being fooled by Granit Xhaka’s goal celebration | Football

Granit Xhaka scored his first Bayer Leverkusen goal in last night’s win over Mainz (Picture: Getty)

Xabi Alonso admitted he was momentarily nervous after Granit Xhaka feigned injury celebrating his first goal for Bayer Leverkusen.

A 2-1 win over Mainz helped move Leverkusen an astonishing 11 points clear at the top of the table, albeit having played a game more than second placed Bayern Munich.

Eyebrows were raised when Xhaka opted to leave Arsenal in the summer, especially given the pivotal role he had played in leading the Gunners back into the Champions League.

Arsenal’s loss has certainly been Leverkusen’s gain, however, with the Switzerland international one of the driving forces behind his new club’s unlikely rise to the summit of German football.

Given he has been an ever present this season, it was somewhat surprising that it took until the 23rd match of the campaign for Xhaka to break his goalscoring duck, but he found his shooting boots last night.

There looked little danger when the ball was rolled into the midfielder’s path but the 31-year-old stunned Robin Zentner with a stunning shot that arced over the Mainz goalkeeper.

As he ran off to celebrate his third minute stunner, Xhaka clutched his left hamstring and appeared to indicate he has suffered an injury.

Alonso and the rest of his coaching staff looked concerned before their frowns soon turned to smiles when Xhaka was seen laughing with his teammates.

‘I know Granit has done it before in training and it made me nervous then,’ said Alonso after the game. ‘The physio came to me but I just said ‘Relax’.’

‘I went for the goal, even if there was a bit of luck involved!’ Xhaka, himself, admitted afterwards. ‘But I am delighted to score my first goal!’

The result meant Leverkusen are now a German record 33 games unbeaten since the start of the season but Alonso insists his side have their eyes on much more significant achievements.

He said: ‘I don’t care before they happen but when it happens I’m really proud.

‘The effort the team put in, the commitment, it’s so easy to work with them. I learn so much from them.You don’t get medals for it but the process itself feels nice. We don’t want to stop.’


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