Leverkusen - The most highly anticipated encounter of Matchday 20 lived up to its billing as Borussia Dortmund's 3-2 win brought an end to Bayer 04 Leverkusen's unbeaten home record under Sami Hyypiä and Sascha Lewandowski in an instant classic.
Frenetic first fifteen
The reigning champions raced out to an early lead courtesy of Marco Reus' neat finish and a Jakub Blaszczykowski penalty, but having controlled the opening 45 minutes, were pegged back by a quickfire Stefan Reinartz double soon after the restart. However, Robert Lewandowski's fourth goal in as many games ultimately allowed BVB to wrestle away all three points and second place from their despairing hosts.
The opening exchanges set the tone as Dortmund's fluidity in possession, coupled with Bayer's desire to threaten in transition, contributed to an end-to-end spectacle. Leverkusen were the first to fire off a warning shot, with Gonzalo Castro lobbing an effort onto the roof of the net, but it was the visitors who broke the deadlock inside four minutes.
Lewandowski's neat reverse pass found Reus, who demonstrated great composure in delicately chipping over the onrushing Bernd Leno. Both sides maintained the frantic pace, but things soon got worse for the hosts. Lewandowski was felled inside the area by Leno, allowing Jakub Blaszczykowski to preserve his record of scoring in every game since the winter break by sending the keeper the wrong way with his spot kick.
Foot off the pedal
With their unbeaten home record under threat, Leverkusen were struggling to get to grips with BVB's incisive combination play. Stefan Kießling cut an isolated figure up front, but still managed to squander chances to get his side back into the game, first getting his angles all wrong with a diving header, before forcing Felipe Santana to produce a last-ditch tackle to deny him from six yards out.
Dortmund had settled into their rhythm at this point though, inviting Leverkusen to press forward before effortlessly breaking on the counter, using their link-up play to devastating effect. Götze fired wide in one such situation, but as a result it was the hosts who were creating all the pressure approaching half-time. However, with Andre Schürrle and Daniel Carvajal both flashing efforts off target, Dortmund's clean sheet remained intact as they took a two-goal lead in at the break.
Comeback on the cards?
Sidney Sam was introduced for the second half and almost made an immediate impact, timing his late run to perfection only to see his curling effort palmed to safety by the outstretched hand of a sprawling Mitchell Langerak. The Australian keeper, deputising for No1 Roman Weidenfeller, had rarely been tested in the first half, but came to his side's rescue again when he produced a superb reaction save from Kießling's header.
Leverkusen, much-improved after the restart and dominating possession, were out to prove a point and after Schürrle left the stanchion shaking with a fierce drive, their pressure finally told. Kießling was the creator, controlling on his chest before flicking the ball over Lukasz Piszczek and into the path of Reinartz to slide home from close range.
The defensive midfielder bagged a surprise second less than five minutes later, again winning an aerial battle after Sebastian Boenisch headed Castro's free-kick back into the danger area. The equaliser sparked Dortmund back into life though and the defending Bundesliga champions wasted little time is retaking the lead when Götze latched onto Philipp Wollscheid's risky back pass, forcing the ball to spring loose for Lewandowski to side foot into an empty net.
BVB should have wrapped up proceeding when Boenisch's rash challenge on Lewandowski resulted in a second penalty. However, in trying to find the opposite corner to his first effort from the spot, Blaszczykowski failed to beat Leno again. The encounter's intensity showed no signs of letting up as substitute Jens Hegler headed inches over, before Schürrle nodded a whisker wide. In the end though, Leverkusen's inspired second-half showing wasn't enough to conserve their unbeaten record on home soil this season, nor their place in the table.
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