By Michael Kryschak@michaelkryschak

"Laterkusen" - the art of deciding games late

In an incredible season so far, Xabi Alonso's Bayer Leverkusen have been able to hang on to their unbeaten streak through a lot of "last minute" goals. "Die Werkself" have scored 20 times after the 86th minute this season - on twelve occasions that goal was necessary to keep the dream of finishing a season unbeaten alive. We took a look at all those deciding moments. At some point this can't be considered luck, but great moral and mentality.

From “Neverkusen” to “Meisterkusen” - because of “Laterkusen”

Bayer Leverkusen have earned a lot of nicknames over their time in the Bundesliga. From the infamous “Neverkusen” and “Vizekusen”, which they got after their 2001/02 campaign in which they finished second in every competition, to the modern “Meisterkusen” - for obvious reasons.

In order to deserve their modern nickname, Leverkusen had to go through a lot of tough games, which more often than not finished with a last minute goal from the new Bundesliga champion. In fact, Bayer have scored after the 86th minute 20 times this season!

Twelve of these 20 goals have been extremly important for them to achieve something incredible: going unbeaten throughout a whole season. Many experts called those late goals “lucky” in the beginning, but now they get labelled as “a product of great mentality and team work”.

The first few have come in the Bundesliga: equalising against Bayern on matchday four (2-2) via a 94th minute penalty by Exequiel Palacios and winning against Leipzig on matchday 18 (3-2) after a goal in the 91st minute by Pierro Hincapie. 

But even in the DFB-Pokal “Laterkusen” stayed true to their word: a 90th minute goal by Jonathan Tah won them the game against Stuttgart (3-2).

This new nickname got more popular, even among non-German fans, when Leverkusen scored late goals in the Europa League: three times against Qarabag (once in the group phase, twice in the round of 16) and twice against West Ham in the quarterfinals of the tournament.

Nobody can dispute that this kind of quality is another reason why Leverkusen were able to perform like they did this season. This might even be the kind of quality to win titles at the end of the season. 

If you took every late goal away from Leverkusen, they'd have ten points less in the Bundesliga and would only be two points ahead of Bayern after matchday 30 - and they'd potentially be out of the DFB-Pokal by now. In addition to that, they would've exited the Europa League in the round of 16.

With those last-minute goals, Leverkusen seem to be an unbeatable force this season - especially after their 97th minute equaliser against Dortmund (1-1) this weekend. Let's see if they will need to be “Laterkusen” again in the remaining seven or eight games of the 2023/24 season.


Full list of Leverkusen's 20 late goals this season:

-12.08.23: (DFB-Pokal) Teutonia 0-8 Leverkusen (90th minute, A.Hlozek)

-15.09.23: (Bundesliga) Bayern Munich 2-2 Leverkusen (94th minute, E.Palacios)

-01.11.23 (DFB-Pokal) Sandhausen 2-4 and 2-5 Leverkusen (88th and 92nd minute, A.Adli)

-09.11.23 (Europa League) Qarabag 0-1 Leverkusen (94th minute, V.Boniface)

-06.12.23 (DFB-Pokal) Leverkusen 3-1 Paderborn (87th minute, P.Schick)

-13.01.24 (Bundesliga) Augsburg 0-1 Leverkusen (94th minute, E.Palacios)

-20.01.24 (Bundesliga) Leipzig 2-3 Leverkusen (91st minute, P.Hincapie)

-06.02.24 (DFB-Pokal) Leverkusen 3-2 Stuttgart (90th minute, J.Tah)

-10.02.24 (Bundesliga) Leverkusen 3-0 Bayern Munich (95th minute, J.Frimpong)

-07.03.24 (Europa League) Qarabag 2-2 Leverkusen (92nd minute, P.Schick)

-10.03.24 (Bundesliga) Leverkusen 2-0 Wolfsburg (86th minute, F.Wirtz)

-14.03.24 (Europa League) Leverkusen 2-2 and 3-2 Qarabag (93rd and 97th minute, P.Schick)

-30.03.24 (Bundesliga) Leverkusen 1-1 and 2-1 Hoffenheim (88th and 91st minute, R.Andrich and                      P.Schick)

-11.04.24 (Europa League) Leverkusen 2-0 West Ham (91st minute, V.Boniface)

-14.04.24 (Bundesliga) Leverkusen 5-0 Bremen (90th minute, F. Wirtz)

-18.04.24 (Europa League) West Ham 1-1 Leverkusen (89th minute, J.Frimpong)

-21.04.24 (Bundesliga) Dortmund 1-1 Leverkusen (97th minute, J.Stanisic)

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