Germany: Bundesliga
FT
2 - 3
(1 - 0)
RB Leipzig
Leverkusen
X. Simons (7), L. Openda (56)
N. Tella (47), J. Tah (63), P. Hincapié (90)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

"Hincapie Heroics" lead Leverkusen to another thrilling late win

Xabi Alonso's Bayer 04 Leverkusen continue to display all the hallmarks of a team destined to capture the Bundesliga title. For the second consecutive league round, Xabi's Werkself left it late with a dramatic late winner against RB Leipzig. 

An undefeated run that now spans 28 consecutive fixtures in the current cycle continues. Record champions FC Bayern München must respond with both a win against Bremen tomorrow and three points against 1. FC Union Berlin in a midweek make-up should they wish to keep pace. 
The first Saturday evening "Top-Spiel" of the 2023/24 German Bundesliga's "Rück-Runde" lived up to its building. Two of the top-tier's strongest sides traded both finesse and physical intensity in a consistently exciting affair that ultimately saw Xabi Alonso's title-contenders snatch their second consecutive dramatic late victory of the new calendar year. Whereas Argentine Exequiel Palacios got a chance to play hero last week, Palacios' Latin American colleague Piero Hincapie of Ecuador netted the late winner this time. Hincapie's first goal of the current season could not have come at a better time.

RB trainer Rose employed three changes to the XI that lost 0-1 to Eintracht Frankfurt last week. Castello Lukeba and Nicolas Seiwald started in place of Benjamin Henrichs and Kevin Kampl. Spanish attacker Dani Olmo - finally deemed fit enough to start following his recovery from a shoulder injury - took Christoph Baumgartner's starting slot. Xabi re-inserted two of his regulars back into the lineup after keeping them out of the XI last week. Jonathan Tah and Florian Wirtz returned to take over for Robert Andrich and Adam Hlozek.

The Saxon hosts got off to a blistering start, pelting B04 keeper Lukas Hradecky with a flurry of chances in the 5th. Rose's squad quickly parlayed this momentum into the opening goal. Striker Benjamin Sesko kicked off a 7th-minute sequence with a splendid deke past Tah. Xaver Schlager then cut-back for Xavi Simons. The Dutch phenom took a wonderfully technical touch before blasting home a gorgeous finish from 15 meters out for the 1-0. The German Red Bulls continued to dominate proceedings during a brutally savage opening half-hour.

Leverkusen showed signs of growing into their game during the final 15 minutes of the opening 45. Xabi's league leaders were able to commemorate the equalizer just two minutes after the restart. Some lovely build up play from Wirtz and Alejandro Grimaldo in the 47th ended with Patrick Schick just missing Grimaldo's crossed in service. Thankfully for Germany's red company team, Nathan Tella (subbed on for the injured Jeremie Frimpong in the first half) was on hand to polish off the 1-1.

Poor execution a 56th-minute corner enabled Leipzig to retake the lead. An unmarked Xavi Simons sniped a Bayer service from the flag and, via Olmo, located an unmarked Loïs Openda at the far post. The enthralling nature of the affair nevertheless saw Leverkusen once again equalize from another own corner in the 63rd. Tah rose high to meet Jonas Hofmann's beautifully bent service on the 2-2. Rose pushed exceptionally hard for the victory, exhausting all five of his allotted substitutions in a ten minute span between the 74th and 84th.

Xabi, meanwhile, stood pat. Tella for the injured Frimpong remained the only change until Andrich relieved Palacios in the 88th. Last week's hero may have exited proceedings before the dramatic late winner, but his Spanish-heritage colleagues were on hand to deliver the fireworks. Hincapie pushed a wonderfully curled Grimaldo corner over the line at 90+2. The victory keeps Leverkusen seven points ahead of record champions FC Bayern München in the table. Thomas Tuchel's FCB nevertheless have two games in hand.

Match days

Long reads

Exclusive interviews

Team News

Bundesliga - Bochum - HeidenheimBundesliga - FC Bayern - FC KölnBundesliga - Gladbach - DortmundBundesliga - Mainz 05 - HoffenheimBundesliga - RB Leipzig - WolfsburgBundesliga - Stuttgart - Frankfurt