Leverkusen - Bayer 04 Leverkusen survived an FC Bayern München onslaught to clinch a 1-1 draw with the new Bundesliga leaders at the BayArena.
Two goals in the space of a minute, first from Toni Kroos and then from Sidney Sam, confined the goalscoring action to a brief spell, but the drama and excitement lasted 90 minutes in a pulsating encounter dominated by the visitors.
Pep Guardiola’s first 100 days in office haven't all been straight forward, but despite the result at the BayArena, Bayern's performance served to reinforce the notion that the record-German champions and quadruple winners from last season are heading for further glory in 2013/14.
During the opening exchanges all Leverkusen saw of the ball was obscured by the white socks and black boots of their opponents, who were striking and caressing it like a prized possession. Indeed, with seven shots on goal within the first half an hour, the biggest surprise was that the hosts were still in the game at that stage, as Bernd Leno proved equal to Bayern's target practice.
As the 30-minute mark passed, UEFA Best Player in Europe Franck Ribery rolled up his sleeves and pierced the Leverkusen defence from the left, dancing his way past Ömer Toprak’s tentative attempts to block his path before pulling the ball back to the unmarked Kroos, who rifled into the roof of the net to open his account for the season from 12 yards.
However, Bayern’s celebrations were curtailed as Bayer hit back instantly, levelling within a minute. Manuel Neuer pushed a cross out of the reach of Stefan Kießling, before palming Sebastian Boenisch’s follow-up attempt into the path of Sam, who had the simplest of tasks to slot into an open goal. Going back to square one Bayern, who immediately squandered a chance to reclaim the lead when Müller contrived to head the ball over a gaping goal from five yards out.
Bayern's pressure was unrelenting as they sought a second goal, as Ribery’s shot was cleared off the line by Giulio Donati before the Frenchman took a sweeping pass from Rafinha on the volley, testing Leno who excelled again in keeping out his next effort with a fine one-handed save. Xherdan Shaqiri scuppered the next chance, while Müller's header was deflected wide as Bayern continued to rack up goalscoring opportunities.
The Bundesliga would not be the Bundesliga, however, if everything were to follow a predictable script. Bayer sparked into life with Donati twice getting down the right and sending in crosses which were not too far away from Kießling. Although they never really threatened to score, the hosts managed to bring a much-needed lull in the game which lasted until stoppage time when Bayern nearly snatched victory. Substitute Mario Götze was denied at the near post before Schweinsteiger’s header was cleared off the line by Donati as Leverkusen held on to stay within a point of the new league leaders.
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