Exequiel Palacios' injury-time winner lifts Bayer Leverkusen in Augsburg


Just when it seemed Xabi Alonso's Bundesliga leaders were set to play out a scoreless draw in Augsburg, Exequiel Palacios popped up in injury time to help the visitors to three big points.

Augsburg 0-1 Bayer Leverkusen
Goals: 0-1 Palacios 90'+4 (assist: Grimaldo)

With the table toppers seeing their league lead clipped to one point by Bayern Munich the night before, Leverkusen recommenced their title tilt with added determination. The always lively Alejandro Grimaldo - he of the 12 Bundesliga goal involvements - stung Finn Dahmen's palms with a shot from distance while the Spanish full-back later sent a swerving effort crashing against the crossbar. Looking to make light of the absence of injured top scorer Victor Boniface as well as defenders Odilon Kossounou and Edmond Tapsoba (on Africa Cup of Nations duty), the visitors kept up the pressure and should have been ahead when Patrik Schick went one-v-one against Dahmen. However, the goalkeeper and Felix Uduokhai eventually forced the Czech out. Robert Andrich was then denied at the far post by the busy Dahmen while Augsburg kept home interest high with Ermedin Demirović's curling strike that fizzed just wide.  

With Bayer having scored in every one of their previous games this season and Augsburg failing to play out a scoreless draw in 67 consecutive Bundesliga matches, the chances of stalemate at the WWK Arena seemed unlikely. Granit Xhaka tried to break the deadlock with a darting header from Jonas Hofmann's cross that flew off target. Dahmen then almost undid all of his good first-half work when the custodian's attempt to punch a dangerous centre only allowed Schick to nod narrowly off target. Alonso introduced Florian Wirtz to help provide his side with an extra spark, and he almost delivered with a shot to the near post that Dahmen kept out. Undeterered by the visitors' dominance, the hosts kept at it. Demirović may have been offside when rounding Lukáš Hrádecký and blasting off target but Phillip Tietz certainly was when slotting home soon afterwards. With time ticking down, Dahmen made what appeared to be one last crucial stop to deny the Werkself, but deep into injury time, Palacios popped up to smash home Grimaldo's assist and send the unbeaten league leaders into raptures. 

Match stats

  • Leverkusen scored the winner with their 25th and last shot on goal.
  • The Werkself are top at the halfway stage for the third time in Bundesliga history. They previously achieved the feat in 2001/02 and 2009/10. They are still yet to win the title, however.
  • Bayer have amassed 45 points in the first half of the season (14 wins, three draws). Only Pep Guardiola's Bayern previously managed that total.
  • Schick was making his 100th appearance in all competitions for Leverkusen here. The forward has scored 47 goals for the Werkself. 
  • Dahmen was playing his 30th Bundesliga game. He has yet to keep a clean sheet.
  • Leverkusen are currently 26 games without defeat in all competitions this term (23 wins, three draws), a record for a German club at the start of a season.

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Augsburg: Dahmen - Mbabu, Gouweleeuw, Uduokhai, Iago - Rexhbeçaj (Gumny 88'), Dorsch - Jensen (Engels 80'), Demirović (c) (Beljo 80'), Vargas (Maier 52') - Tietz (Michel 80')
Unused subs: Koubek, Pfeiffer, Breithaupt, Winther
Out: Framberger (knee), Oxford (illness), Pedersen (suspended)
Coach: Jess Thorup

Leverkusen: Hrádecký (c) - Stanišić, Andrich, Hincapié - Frimpong, Palacios, Xhaka, Grimaldo – Hofmann – Schick, Hložek (Wirtz 52')
Unused subs: Kovář, Tah, Amiri, Mbamba-Muanda, Tella, Fosu-Mensah, Puerto, Onyeka
Out: Adli (international duty), Arthur (thigh), Boniface (muscular), Kossounou (international duty), Tapsoba (international duty)
Coach: Xabi Alonso