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Leverkusen win first Bundesliga crown, breaking Bayerns 11-year run

Published : Tuesday, 16 April, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 353

Leverkusen win first Bundesliga crown, breaking Bayerns 11-year run

Leverkusen win first Bundesliga crown, breaking Bayerns 11-year run

LEVERKUSEN, APRIL 15: Bayer Leverkusen lifted the Bundesliga title for the first time in their 120-year history on Sunday, a 5-0 victory over Werder Bremen breaking Bayern Munichs 11-year stranglehold on the German top flight.

Xabi Alonsos Leverkusen knew victory would secure the title with five games to spare, and there were no signs of nerves in a dominant performance.

A hat-trick from Florian Wirtz and goals from Victor Boniface and Granit Xhaka extended their unbeaten run to a stunning 43 games in all competitions.

Leverkusens maiden title, coming after five second-place finishes in their history, keeps their dream of a remarkable treble alive while shedding their unwanted Neverkusen nickname for good.

With 10 minutes to go, the long-suffering fans began making their way to the sidelines and a few jumped the gun, storming the pitch with the match still ongoing.

Leverkusens players ushered the fans back and some obliged, albeit briefly, with the stands swiftly emptying on the 90-minute mark as tearful supporters made their way onto the turf to celebrate with the players.

Leverkusen are now on 79 points -- the best tally after 29 games in German league history -- and are 16 clear of second-placed Bayern and third-placed Stuttgart.

"Its impossible to describe. Personally I can quite grasp what we did. I needed to go back to the changing room to clear my head," Wirtz told DAZN.

"Weve already started the party with the supporters."

Wirtz, who moved from neighbouring Cologne at the age of 16 and grew up just 20 minutes away in Pulheim, told DAZN he "could not imagine what we would achieve at the start of the season".

"It was when we started winning some matches, with a dominant style of play, thats when I realised we could do a little better than just making the Champions League."

The Leverkusen bus arrived at the stadium 90 minutes before kick-off, wading through a sea of fans clad in black and red on the way to the 30,000-capacity BayArena.

Normally known as Bismarck Street, fans had stuck temporary signs saying Xabi Alonso Street along the main road in honour of the clubs coach.

Alonso looked ahead to Thursdays Europa League trip to London to face West Ham, making seven changes to his starting XI and benching stars Wirtz, Jeremie Frimpong and Alex Grimaldo, the latter for the first time in the league this season.
Piero Hincapie, Grimaldos replacement, had an early effort at goal saved but it would be the fit-again Boniface, making his first start since mid-December, who put the home side in front.

With 22 minutes gone, Jonas Hofmann was felled in the box by Bremens Julian Malatini, with the referee pointing to the spot after VAR urged him to view the contact again on the monitor.

Boniface stepped up and nervelessly slotted the penalty past a helpless Michael Zetterer to send the home fans into raptures.

Hofmann was almost the provider again shortly before half-time, his pass finding Amine Adli who fired against the crossbar.

Bremen started the second-half strongly but their hopes of spoiling the party were snuffed out on the 60-minute mark, Boniface finding Xhaka who unleashed a long-range rocket before slapping his badge in front of the ecstatic home fans.

Wirtz, who came on at half-time for Adli, replicated Xhakas effort eight minutes later from almost the same spot on the pitch.

Wirtz added another with seven minutes remaining before sealing his hat-trick in the 90th minute as Leverkusen rid themselves of their nearly men tag in style.    —AFP

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