A brave display saw Bayer Leverkusen over the line with a 1-1 draw at home to Bayern Munich on Saturday.
Toni Kroos opened the scoring for the guests in the 29th minute, but just seconds later Sidney Sam had the hosts back on level terms after a gaffe from Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
Bayern started the match in their typical style, spreading the ball around and interchanging positions while their opponents could only watch and absorb as much of the pressure as possible.
David Alaba routinely made his way deep into the attacking third to allow Franck Ribery to drift in side, and Xherdan Shaqiri got some joy down the right flank as well.
Finally, after nearly half an hour, the pressure paid off with the first goal of the match.
Not surprisingly, Ribery was the architect—the reigning European Footballer of the Year brought the ball deep down the left before pausing to play it back for Kroos, who smashed it into the back of the net after running into the goalmouth.
But less than two minutes later Leverkusen were back on level terms.
Lars Bender, having got himself in good space down the right, played in a cross that Neuer flapped at and only got a piece of, and when he again deflected the follow-up effort from the left he ended up tipping the ball to Sam, who had an open net in front of him into which he placed his finish.
Bayern got right back to business after the restart, but Leverkusen continued to gain confidence as they repelled attack after attack, although on three or four occasions they relied on spectacular goalkeeping from Bernd Leno to keep them in with a shout
Hyypia, meanwhile, used late substitutions to bring on attackers Heung-Min Son and Jens Hegeler, and while neither found the back of the net the message was sent—Leverkusen would continue to try to win the game.
And while they didn’t, they put up one heroic fight.
Key Player Grades
Franck Ribery: B+
So much of Bayern’s buildup play went through the Frenchman, and while he assisted on the Kroos opener and tested Leno with several shots of his own, he was unable to find that crucial breakthrough when his team needed him most. On the whole, it was a solid display from him, albeit not a match-winning one.
Toni Kroos: A+
Kroos touched the ball 87 times on Saturday, successfully completed 95 per cent of his passes, took four shots at goal and threw himself into two tackles. It was a complete performance from the German international, who was surprisingly withdrawn in favour of Mario Gotze with five minutes remaining.
Sidney Sam: A-
He wore himself out in the end and was replaced in the 82nd minute. But it was a well-earned withdrawal, as he not only helped his defensive teammates in fending off the Bayern attackers but also contributed the goal that proved the equalizer at the final whistle.
Bayer Leverkusen will return from the international break with a match away to Hoffenheim on October 18. Five days later they’ll host Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League. Bayern Munich, meanwhile, will host Mainz on October 19 and welcome Plzen to Allianz Arena in the Champions League on October 23.
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