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bundesliga

Florian Wirtz spot on as Bayer Leverkusen move to within one win of the title

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Florian Wirtz scored a penalty as Bayer Leverkusen beat Union Berlin to move to within just one win of the Bundesliga title.

Union Berlin 0-1 Bayer Leverkusen
Goal: 0-1 Wirtz (pen. 45'+8)
Red card: Gosens (45'+3)

Needing just three wins to wrap up a maiden Bundesliga title, Leverkusen appeared keen not to delay the wait for mathematical certainty and were straight on the front foot, with a Borja Iglesias header from point-blank range saved well by Frederik Rønnow. That was the first intervention of what promised to be a busy afternoon for the last line of the Union defence, although he continued to cope well as Leverkusen looked for a way through. An injury to Adam Hložek spoiled Xabi Alonso's rotation plans, with Amine Adli sent on after just half an hour, but Robin Gosens did him a favour by picking up his second yellow card of the game late in the first half, leaving the hosts with 10 men. From the subsequent corner, Odilon Kossounou scrambled the ball in, but the offside flag was raised. A check of the entire goalmouth scramble by the Video Assistant Referee led to a penalty being awarded for a handball by Christopher Trimmel, and Wirtz tucked the penalty away in the eighth minute of stoppage time to give the guests the lead.

Leverkusen emerged for the second half with the same hunger they had shown in the first, with Adli going close to doubling their advantage. Victor Boniface was then introduced, making his Bundesliga return following injury, appearing for the first time in the top flight in 108 days, and while that was great news for Die Werkself, there was better to come from Heidenheim, where the hosts had come from two goals down to lead against Bayern Munich. With this combination of results, Leverkusen move on to face Werder Bremen next Sunday, knowing that a win would secure them a maiden Bundesliga title.

Watch: Lukas Hradecky gearing up for title party

Match stats

  • Still to taste defeat 28 fixtures in, Leverkusen have equalled the record for the number of unbeaten games to start a Bundesliga season. Pep Guardiola's Bayern and Jürgen Klopp's Dortmund went the first 28 matches without loss in 2013/14 and 2011/12 respectively.
  • Wirtz's eighth goal of the season is a new personal single-season best for the German.
  • Gosens' red card was the 50th red card shown in the Bundesliga this season.
  • Each time Leverkusen have taken the lead this season, they have gone on to win.
  • Leverkusen have won their last nine Bundesliga games in a row - setting another new club record.

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Line-ups

Union: Rønnow - Doekhi, Vogt, Leite – Khedira (Laidouni 62'), Tousart -  Trimmel (c) (Juranovic 63'), Tousart, Schäfer (Král 63'), Gosens – Vertessen (Kaufmann 46'), Aaronson (Hollerbach 79')
Unused subs: Schwolow, Jaeckel, Knoche, Bedia
Out: Busk (calf), Haberer (muscular), Roussillon (calf)
Coach: Nenad Bjelica

Leverkusen: Hrádecký (c) - Kossounou, Tah, Hincapié, Tella (Frimpong 79'), Andrich, Xhaka, Grimaldo – Wirtz, Hložek (Adli  32') – Iglesias (Boniface 67')
Unused subs: Kovář, Stanišić, Hofmann, Tapsoba, Schick, Palacios
Out: Arthur (thigh)
Coach: Xabi Alonso