By Colin StoneFollow @JfGpodcasts
Bayern’s seemingly impregnable defence was finally breached at the weekend as Bayer Leverkusen picked up their first away win against the Bavarians since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
A first-half strike from Stefan Kiessling and a late own-goal from Jerome Boateng either side of a Mario Mandzukic header gave Leverkusen a valuable victory and creaked the door of the Bundesliga title race open just a little bit further, whilst also bringing to an end Bayern’s bid to make it an impressive nine wins from nine.
Schalke’s slender win over Nuremberg on Saturday closed the gap between themselves and the league leaders to just four points, with Frankfurt a further point behind and reigning champions Dortmund also gaining ground.
Nevertheless, Bayern manager Jupp Heynckes will be furious that his side couldn’t get the job done on Sunday.
Despite a spell of early pressure from the home side, which culminated in several fine saves from Bernd Leno in the Leverkusen goal, it was the visitors who struck first.
A superb counter-attacking move was kick-started by Simon Rolfes, who quickly fed the ever-impressive Andre Schurrle on the right, who in turn fired the ball across the box for Stefan Kiessling to tap home.
Chances came and went for the likes of Shaqiri, Kroos and Pizarro as the second half wore on, but it was Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic who finally levelled matters with a brilliant header just 13 minutes from time.
However, Bayern’s profligacy in front of goal would return to haunt them just three minutes from the end.
An inviting cross from the right-hand side was met by the head of Leverkusen midfielder Sidney Sam, and it looked like it was to be a routine save for Munich keeper Manuel Neuer.
But the ball suddenly took a wicked and rather unfortunate deflection off Bayern defender Jerome Boateng, sending Neuer the wrong way and sending the Leverkusen fans wild.
The league leaders went agonisingly close to equalising once again in the dying seconds as a Claudio Pizarro effort struck the bar, but it was not to be for last season’s Champions League finalists.
Leverkusen, the perennial underachievers of the Bundesliga, will undoubtedly be buoyed by their victory at the Allianz Arena, but it remains to be seen whether or not it will actually spur them on to bigger and better things.
Sascha Lewandowski’s side may sit fifth in the table, but they are the epitome of inconsistency, as reflected by their recent draws with Mainz and Stuttgart.
If Leverkusen are to make that step up to title challengers once more, they need to adopt the sheer brutality and efficiency that their weekend opponents have displayed so effectively time and time again.
Elsewhere in Germany, Felix Magath-less Wolfsburg smashed their way out of 18th position by hammering Fortuna Dusseldorf 4-1 at the ESPIRIT Arena.
With the tyrant boss gone, it appeared as though the Wolves’ squad had been liberated of their shackles and were able to breathe the free air again.
A double from summer signing Bas Dost, a player whom Magath had dropped after early-season promise, as well as a strike from veteran Ivica Olic and a penalty from the inconsistent Diego saw the former Bundesliga champions climb two places to 16th, with caretaker boss Lorenz-Gunther Kostner overseeing his team’s fine win.
With a squad packed to the rafters with talent, it should be a formality for Die Wolfe to avoid relegation this season.
But then again, this is Wolfsburg we’re talking about.
Gameweek 9 Results
Augsburg 0-2 Hamburg
Bayern Munich 1-2 Bayer Leverkusen
Fortuna Dusseldorf 1-4 Wolfsburg
Freiburg 0-2 Borussia Dortmund
Greuther Furth 1-1 Werder Bremen
Hannover 2-3 Borussia M’Gladbach
Mainz 3-0 Hoffenheim
Schalke 1-0 Nuremberg
Stuttgart 2-1 Eintracht Frankfurt