Roger Schmidt revels in Leverkusen sealing Champions League spot

Bayer Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt admitted a huge weight had been lifted after his side secured their place in the Champions League next season with a 2-1 win over Hertha Berlin.

The Champions League anthem was played at the BayArena as soon as the final whistle sounded after goals from Julian Brandt and Lars Bender had sealed an important win.

Sealing a top-three place in the Bundesliga would have been almost unthinkable after a 3-3 draw at Augsburg on March 5 but Leverkusen have won all eight games since to propel themselves up the table.

"It's a huge relief after what has been such a demanding season," Schmidt said.

"It was a tough game that we pretty much controlled for 90 minutes, but when you are only one goal in front, your opponents can get back into the game with just one move.

"But now we can be relaxed about our final two games. The lads can be very proud."

Leverkusen will be participating in the Champions League for the third year running and for the fourth time in the past five years, having cemented their reputation as one of the Bundesliga's leading clubs.

"The table doesn't lie," said goalkeeper Bernd Leno, who confirmed before the game that he will be remaining with Leverkusen next season and not making use of a clause in his contract that would allow him to leave in the summer.

"We're right where we belong. It's important that we're in the Champions League again."

Brandt, who scored for the sixth game in a row, was thrilled his side had deserved to wrap up third place behind Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

"We're delighted," he told the Bundesliga website. "I think we're going to celebrate just a little bit, I'm not going to make any secret of that.

"To wrap up third place with two weeks of the season still to go is a great performance."