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The games that defined Leverkusen’s Bundesliga title success

Bayer Leverkusen are celebrating a historic Bundesliga title success with the club crowned German champions for the first time.

Xabi Alonso’s side have ended Bayern Munich’s 11-year stranglehold on German football to win the first league title in their 120-year history.

Die Werkself have been a cut above the competition this season to wrap up the league title with five games to spare, making a mockery of their unwanted ‘Neverkusen’ tag to win the Bundesliga without losing a single game.

Leverkusen will next be targeting an invincible campaign, while the club continue to chase a treble with a DFP-Pokal final to come, and one foot in the Europa League semi-finals.

Following their title triumph, we’ve looked at five games that defined Leverkusen’s success.

Bayern Munich 2-2 Bayer Leverkusen

Leverkusen began the campaign in fine form with three consecutive league wins, a continuation of the momentum built after Alonso’s appointment early into the previous season.

Summer signings Victor Boniface and Alejandro Grimaldo had hit the ground running at the BayArena, but the trip to face the defending champions, and perennial powerhouse, Bayern Munich was the first real test of this improving team.

Leverkusen twice trailed against the Bavarians, including a seventh-minute opener from Bundesliga record signing Harry Kane. However, Alonso’s side showed the never-say-die spirit that has defined their campaign, with Grimaldo’s fantastic free-kick levelling the score.

Bayern looked set to assert their dominance on the would-be contenders when Leon Goretzka restored their advantage on 87 minutes, but Bayer bounced back as Exequiel Palacios netted a 94th-minute penalty to rescue a point.

To be the best, you have to beat the best, and although Leverkusen had to settle for a point, this results increased confidence that Die Werkself could match it with the champions.

Augsburg 0-1 Bayer Leverkusen

Leverkusen led at the halfway stage of a Bundesliga campaign for the third time, though the looming threat of Bayern Munich remained in the rear-view mirror.

An away trip to Augsburg saw Leverkusen under pressure with the league leaders having seen Bayern close the gap to one point a day earlier. With key players out injured and at the Africa Cup of Nations, Leverkusen looked set for a frustrating night as Finn Dahmen produced heroics in the home side’s goal.

Alonso’s side fired 24 shots on goal without finding a route past Dahmen, until Exequiel Palacios turned in a stoppage-time winner with their final effort of the game.

The result saw Leverkusen move to 45 points from 17 games, with only Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich having ever managed that total.

Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 Bayern Munich

In any changing of the guard, there’s a seminal moment.

For Leverkusen, this was it.

Alonso’s side thrashed Bayern Munich to open up a five-point gap at the summit, providing clear room between themselves and the champions for the first time. Josip Stanisic, on loan from Bayern, opened the scoring against his parent club at the back post before Grimaldo fired in a thumping effort to double the advantage.

Manuel Neuer ventured forward at a set-piece as Bayern desperately sought to get back into the game, and the goalkeeping great was punished as Leverkusen counter-attacked and Jeremie Frimpong slid in a late third.

Leverkusen were dominant as the BayArena celebrated a famous win, with Bayern second-best and restricted to just a sole shot on target.

Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Hoffenheim

Leverkusen’s incredible unbeaten run has been built on an elite mentality as much as quality football, with their last-gasp heroics against Hoffenheim extending their undefeated streak.

Alonso’s side’s unbeaten record was in real danger when Maximilian Beier combined with Wout Weghost to open the scoring for the visitors, who held onto their advantage until the final two minutes of normal time.

Robert Andrich levelled for Leverkusen on 88 minutes, before Patrik Schick scored a second in stoppage time to complete the comeback.

Bayer Leverkusen 5-0 Werder Breman

Let the party commence.

Leverkusen headed into their clash with Werder Bremen knowing a win would be enough to seal a historic first league title. There were no signs of nerves from the home side, however, as Alonso’s side thrashed the visitors to kickstart wild celebrations at the BayArena.

Florian Wirtz scored his first career hat-trick, including a special strike from distance for his first, after Victor Boniface had opened the scoring from the penalty spot. Granit Xhaka, who had agonisingly missed out on a league title at Arsenal last season, was also on target to coronate the champions.

The magnitude of their triumph can not be underestimated, with Alonso having inherited a struggling side last season, who had endured their second-worst start to a campaign in 43 years. In his first full season of senior management, the Spaniard has led Leverkusen to the Bundesliga – and there might still be more to come.

Read – Premier League Team of the Week – Matchday 33

See more – Premier League weekend: Five things we learned

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