Bayern Munich 2-2 Bayer Leverkusen: Talking points as late Palacios penalty saves Leverkusen from de
Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen played a thrilling match at the Allianz Arena on Friday evening in the opening match of the fourth of the Bundesliga season, ending in a 2-2 draw. It was Harry Kane who broke the deadlock in the seventh minute with a poacher’s header from close range, and Alejandro Grimaldo equalized for the visitors with a stunning free-kick in the 24th.
Bayern and their supporters surely thought they had won it when Leon Goretzka tapped in from close range with less than five minutes of the 90 to go, but they were in for a late surprise when a penalty was given to Leverkusen two minutes into the stoppage time, and
Exequiel Palacios made no mistake from the spot.
Saying the contest was a thrilling one is by no means an exaggeration. It was an action-packed display, with chances flashing at either end of the pitch throughout its course.
Bayern expectedly started on the front foot and Kane’s opener gave them some confidence early on. But Leverkusen started putting up a serious fight around the middle of the first half, and they burst into life after Grimaldo’s equalizer.
Victor Boniface was the man who threatened Sven Ulreich in the Bayern goal the most, frequently making trouble for the Bavarians’ defenders and getting the better of them. But he simply couldn’t score; chances came his way and went as he missed the target on several occasions, and Ulreich produced a number of fine saves too. He did put the ball in the back of the net on one occasion, but the linesman’s flag rightly ruled him offside.
Bayern, however, obviously didn’t just sit back and let the visitors do what they like. Kane, Goretzka, Thomas Muller, Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabri all had chances which went begging, with Leverkusen goalkeeper Lucas Hradecky also putting in a fine display.
For a long time the third goal of the game appeared just around the corner, and the stadium burst joyfully when Goretzka made it 2-1 in the 86th minute. Victory was there for the taking, and wouldn’t have been undeserved from Bayern’s point of view, but a defeat in this game would certainly have been harsh on Leverkusen.
And in the end, it was a slightly clumsy move from Alphonso Davies that brought about the last-gasp equalizer. The Bayern left-back tried to poke the ball away from Jonas Hoffman about a yard inside the box wide on his flank, but he ended up sweeping the ankle of the Leverkusen man from behind. Referee Daniel Schlager saw no offence at first, and when his assistant on that side showed towards the corner flag, it seemed nothing would come of it.
But Schlager eventually got a call from the VAR room and went to check the situation on the pitch-side screen. On his way back, he seemed very determined as he blew the whistle and pointed to the spot. The penalty has been described by some of the media covering the game as “soft”, but there can be no doubt that illegal, though probably unintentional, contact by Davies on Hoffman had occurred. It was a clear foul by the Canada international.
Kane on target again
There have been one or two eyebrows raised when Bayern agreed to pay €100 million for Kane, at the age of 30 and inside the final year of contract at Tottenham Hotspur.
However, the England captain has certainly done everything to justify the money spent on his services, with four goals and one assists in four Bundesliga games so far. The Bavarians obviously lacked a powerful presence in the form of a proven goalscoring striker to lead their line last season, having not signed a proper replacement for Robert Lewandowski, but now, they obviously have one in Kane.
Having scored loads of goals year after year in the Premier League, winning three Golden Boot awards in the English top flight at the time, Kane is making light work of Bundesliga defenders at the moment and appears set to top the goalscoring chart in Germany as well. It remains to be seen if he breaks the curse with his first major trophy ever, but with him in their ranks, Bayern are well-equipped to help him finally get his hands on some silverware.
Kane’s goal in this game was maybe an easy finish which not many would have missed, but his movement to get around the crowd inside the box and get at the end of an attempted clearance to slot home was a sign of a true football marksman.
It probably wouldn’t be right to name Kane as the best in his position in the game, not with someone like Erling Haaland around, but he’s not far behind and can certainly be put into the world class bracket.
Alonso’s Leverkusen flying
Giving Bayern such a good game in Munich and showing the mental strength not to give up until the final whistle, not every team can do that. There is certainly something different about Bayer Leverkusen since Xabi Alonso took charge of the team in October last year, his first job as a head coach of a senior team.
In a highly interesting 2022/23 season, where Union Berlin secured Champions League participation and SC Freiburg finished fifth, not to mention Borussia Dortmund racing Bayern for the title down to the last game and finishing level on points, Leverkusen managed to edge out Eintracht Frankfurt on goal-difference to land that second spot in the Europa League.
What we’ve seen so far in the Bundesliga this term suggests Alonso’s team could soon be among the clubs tipped for the trophy in UEFA’s second-tier competition.
This game was probably the perfect opportunity for Bayern to pull away at the top of the table in the German top flight, playing at home against the team that’s keeping the race as tight as possible, but it wasn’t to be – Leverkusen were just too good and too determined not to allow that to happen.
It’s Leverkusen who still top the table. The two teams have amassed 10 points from four games each, with the Bavarians trailing on goal-difference. They embark upon their respective European campaigns in a couple of days, with Bayern facing Manchester United at home in the Champions League and Leverkusen welcoming Swedish side Hacken to the BayArena in the Europa League. After that, Alonso’s team will have to get down to business and beat newly promoted Heidenheim at home, while Bayern welcome Bochum with the same idea.
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