Bayer Leverkusen move up to third win win vs. weakened Bayern
Bayer Leverkusen moved up to third in the Bundesliga thanks to a 2-0 win over Bayern Munich on Saturday evening.
A Hakan Calhanoglu free-kick and Julian Brandt strike earned Leverkusen the points against a weakened Bayern side, who were clearly already focusing on Wednesday’s Champions League tie with Barcelona.
The win takes the Werkself ahead of Borussia Monchengladbach – their opponents next weekend.
There were inevitably plenty of changes to what might be deemed a standard starting XI for Bayern with Javi Martinez back after a long-term injury absence and the biggest surprise of all being Rico Strieder at full-back.
Mitchell Weiser and Gianluca Gaudino were also included in a starting XI which would have had Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt licking his lips.
His players did likewise, sensing an opportunity to get one over the Bundesliga champions and strengthen their claim for a direct ticket to the group stage of next season’s Champions League.
They attacked aggressively, denying Bayern the possession they are so used to controlling at will, yet it all culminated in nothing.
Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was barely tested, while the biggest chance of the first half actually came back at the other end of the field when Mario Gotze was clean through on goal, but he led the ball wide and Tin Jedvaj covered for his beaten goalkeeper on the line.
Claudio Pizarro found himself in the same position early in the second half, but he too failed with Leno this time coming out on top.
Leverkusen then took their lead with their next chance, in the 55th minute, Calhanoglu curling an unstoppable direct free-kick beyond Neuer’s reach.
Bayer then went for the jugular, putting the Bayern defence under increased pressure and finding a second with 10 minutes remaining.
Thiago Alcantara lost possession in midfield, enabling Karim Bellarabi to race clear and send the ball through for Brandt, who marked his 19th birthday with a goal, leaving Neuer no chance at all with a powerful effort.
Josip Drmic could have added a third late on, but two proved to be enough for Leverkusen to down the champions at the BayArena.