Better late than Neverkusen: the champions' top five late goals


Xabi Alonso's Bundesliga champions have become famed for their remarkable ability to strike late to decide close encounters. bundesliga.com has picked out five of Bayer Leverkusen's best late goals in 2023/24.

They have done it again and again. One of the most staggering features of Bayer Leverkusen's swashbuckling title-winning 46-match-and-counting unbeaten 2023/24 has been their penchant for crucial late strikes. Some might say it shows fate was behind their title drive and bid for cup glory, others that it is merely symbolic of the sensational spirit Alonso has instilled in his heroes. 

Leverkusen have hit an incredible 17 goals after the 89th minute in all competitions as of the Bundesliga's Matchday 31. Here are what we think are five of the most memorable...

Goalscorer: Exequiel Palacios
Match: v Bayern Munich (a), 15 September 20233, Matchday 4 
Time of goal: 90'+4
Result: 2-2

Leverkusen had just climbed to the top of the table the week before the Matchday 4 clash, and showed in no uncertain terms just how determined they were to stay there. After Alejandro Grimaldo had shown the Bundesliga what a brilliant summer signing he was with a spectacular free-kick, the Werkself found themselves 2-1 down as the game entered stoppage time. Jonas Hofmann was bundled over by Alphonso Davies in the box and a VAR check gave the visitors a lifeline - which World Cup winner Exequiel Palacios duly seized by smashing the penalty into the corner of the net. It was a goal to "send a message", in the words of Bundesliga commentator Kevin Hatchard, and that message became increasingly clear as the season progressed - this side would simply never give up, even when they appeared down and out!  

Watch: Bayern Munich 2-2 Bayer Leverkusen - highlights

Goalscorer: Jonathan Tah
Match: v VfB Stuttgart (h), 7 February 2024, DFB Cup quarter-final
Time of goal: 90'
Result: 3-2

As Leverkusen approached the winter break still unbeaten, the feeling grew that something special could be brewing. When they reached the start of February still at the top of the table, it was clear they were serious title contenders - as well as being challengers in two cup competitions. Stuttgart - perhaps the second biggest sensation of the season behind Leverkusen - gave Alonso's men a stern test of their credentials in a pulsating DFB Cup quarter-final. But once again it was Bayer who came out smiling at the death.

The visitors had led twice on the night but Tah's 90th-minute header from a pinpoint Florian Wirtz cross decided it. That was the latest of six strikes from Tah so far this season - a significant goalscoring contribution for a centre-back, which underscores just how the entirety of the champions' squad has chipped in to power their sensational charge for honours.  

Watch: How Bayer Leverkusen have remained unbeaten in 2023/24

Goalscorer: Patrik Schick
Match: v Qarabağ (h), 15 March 2024, UEFA Europa League quarter-final
Time of goal: 90'+8
Result: 3-2 (Leverkusen win 5-4 on agg.)

You cannot go through the entire season without at least one setback along the way, surely? That's what everyone was thinking at the 90-minute mark as Leverkusen were heading out of the UEFA Europa League at the hands of spirited Azerbaijani champions Qarabağ. Everyone apart from Alonso and the Leverkusen side, who kept on battling away to try to level the tie on aggregate. Schick was, fittingly for so much of his goalscoring, late to the party this season as injury had restricted him to just a minute of action before December. He then proved to not only be a very capable stand-in for Victor Boniface when the Nigerian himself was injured, but also a conjurer of numerous vital late strikes. Qarabağ were warned about his magic as the Czech striker levelled the first leg in stoppage time in Baku to keep his side's unbeaten record, yet they could do nothing to stop him in the return meeting - as goals in the third and eighth minutes of additional time sent Leverkusen through to the quarter-finals in the most remarkable fashion. 

Watch: All of Patrik Schick's goals in the Bundesliga

Goalscorer: Patrik Schick
Match: v Hoffenheim (h), 30 March 2024, Matchday 27
Time of goal: 90'+1
Result: 2-1

A 3-0 win over Bayern in February (featuring, you guessed it, a stoppage-time goal from Jeremie Frimpong) had left Leverkusen in a very promising position as they remained unbeaten going into the March international break and topped the table by ten points. The Bavarians were in no mood to give up their title defence - and could always hope the leaders would feel the pressure as the title race reached its climax. That indeed looked like it might be the case as Hoffenheim nicked a lead in Leverkusen, and held on with their goal under siege - until Robert Andrich volleyed home a loose ball in the area with 88 minutes on the clock, and Schick pounced on a Nathan Tella cross to pull off yet another stoppage-time heist. Bayern then lost 0-2 to Borussia Dortmund later the same day to all but place the Meisterschale in Leverkusen's hands for the very first time. 

Watch: Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Hoffenheim - highlights

Goalscorer: Josip Stanišić
Match: v Borussia Dortmund (a), 21 April 2024, MD30
Time of goal: 90'+7
Result: 1-1

The Leverkusen late shows continued despite the club sealing the league title - or to be more precise, right through their securing of the league title, as Wirtz completed his hat-trick in the 90th minute on a momentous day against Werder Bremen, sparking a pitch invasion of delirious fans as the honour was confirmed. A week later, a trip to a Borussia Dortmund side in confident mood after securing a UEFA Champions League semi-final spot looked a tricky assignment. After 96 minutes of play it seemed that it would finally be the day Leverkusen lost this season - at the 45th hurdle in all competitions. Yet again they refused to accept that, and their sheer grit showed with defender Stanišić meeting a corner with an unstoppable header at the near post. Alonso could barely seal his delight as his history-breaking side took another step towards an unprecedented undefeated season, with the following weekend also seeing yet another last-gasp leveller as Robert Andrich equalised with the final kick of the ball in a 2-2 draw against Stuttgart.