LEVERKUSEN, Germany — Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen outplayed champions Bayern Munich for a 3-0 victory that sent them five points clear at the top of the standing and put them firmly in charge of the title race.
It was Leverkusen’s 31st game this season without a loss in all competitions, a remarkable campaign for a team which was in the relegation zone when coach Xabi Alonso took charge in Oct. 2022. Alonso celebrated with Bayer Leverkusen´s players and fans after the biggest win to date in his brief coaching career.
Goals from Josip Stanisic, Alejandro Grimaldo and Jeremie Frimpong made sure of the three points.
Bayern, chasing a 12th straight league crown, were nowhere to be seen and managed only a single shot on target over the 90 minutes.
Alonso’s team, who also twice hit the woodwork, is now on 55 points, with Bayern in second place on 50. “The level of the team is growing, the team is ready to know how to play not-so-nice games and not to fall apart,” Alonso said according to AP.
“The team spirit is great, the commitment from the players is the key for me, and we need to keep going.”
The hosts were more aggressive than Bayern who initially had possession but lacked attacking ideas.
The Bavarians were also shaky at the back, struggling with Leverkusen’s increasing pressure.
They were caught napping when Robert Andrich, from a quickly taken throw-in, sent a cutback through the box with Stanisic, on loan from Bayern, left completely unmarked at the far post to tap in.
Spain international Grimaldo doubled the lead five minutes after the restart with his eighth league goal of the season before also hitting the crossbar with a wickedly curled corner kick.
The hosts gradually eased off but still came close to a third with Frimpong’s low drive flying wide in the 73rd.
The Bavarians had no way back into the game, and even the league’s top scorer Harry Kane failed to make any impact.
Frimpong hit the post in the 88th but the Dutch international finally got onto the scoresheet when Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer inexplicably went into the opponents’ box in stoppage time for a corner.
He failed to get back to his own box, and Frimpong raced clear before floating a shot from 25 metres out into an empty net to cap a memorable evening.
The game was a comprehensive tactical victory for Alonso over Thomas Tuchel and Bayern, which couldn’t break through Leverkusen’s defense. Harry Kane has scored 24 goals in 20 Bundesliga games since joining Bayern but had few chances to score as Leverkusen squeezed him out of the game, even though Bayern finished with five specialist forwards on the field at once.
“We wanted to be flexible with the ball, without the ball,” Alonso said and paid tribute to his front three of Tella, Florian Wirtz and Amine Adli for intense running without the ball to force turnovers.
United States midfielder Lennard Maloney scored his first career Bundesliga goal for Heidenheim in a 2-1 win at Werder Bremen, Eintracht Frankfurt was held to a 1-1 draw by Bochum and Borussia Moenchengladbach and Darmstadt played out a 0-0 draw.