Werkself lead Bayern to Exe-it with spot-kick double
Bayer 04 Leverkusen stunned title-chasing FC Bayern Munich as two penalties from Exequiel Palacios in identical circumstances handed them a well-deserved 2-1 victory – their first in seven matches against the reigning Bundesliga champions.
For all their successes in Europe, the final two German clubs to cling on to continental football have underachieved by their own expectations in the Bundesliga this season, with a top-six finish looking unlikely for Leverkusen, while Bayern have been unable to shake off Borussia Dortmund in a heated battle for the title. Die Werkself paid little attention to their underdog status as they sped out of the blocks with a high press and positive attacking play.
With Bayern caught out by the home side’s conviction, an array of chances were on offer for Leverkusen. Kerem Demirbay’s corner almost crept over Yann Sommer and directly into the net, before Jeremie Frimpong’s close-range effort was saved well at the near post by the Swiss goalkeeper. Nevertheless, Bayern were ruthlessly efficient as always, and a single first-half attempt was all they required to alter the scoreboard in their favour. João Cancelo’s delivery was controlled by Leon Goretzka, and Joshua Kimmich arrived to open the scoring via a deflection off Odilon Kossounou.
Bayern’s lead was deceptive, and Julian Nagelmann made a triple change at HT in the hope of turning the tide of play and consolidating their current position. Regardless, Xabi Alonso’s side continued where they had left off, and there were appeals for a penalty after Amine Adli was booked for a dive in the area. Referee Tobias Stieler consulted VAR, and the yellow card was rescinded and a spot-kick awarded. Palacios stepped up and rolled in a deserved equaliser, much to the delight of the BayArena faithful. Jamal Musiala tried to provide a spark of inspiration, but Leverkusen battled on to take the lead in remarkable circumstances. Adli had his name taken once again for simulation in the area, but another intervention from VAR resulted in a second penalty, and Adli being acquitted by the red-faced official.
As fans in the stadium scratched their eyes, Palacios placed the penalty in the same corner to sensationally put his team in front against the Rekordmeister. The away side launched a last-ditch flurry of attacks, but heroics from Lukáš Hrádecký ensured they relinquished the Bundesliga summit to Dortmund ahead of a blockbuster Klassiker after the international break.