Bayern crush Leverkusen to reclaim top spot
BERLIN: Bayern Munich wanted to send a message to fellow title contenders like Bayer Leverkusen.
Bouncing back from a rare loss to Eintracht Frankfurt in their last game, Bayern dismantled Leverkusen 5-1 on Sunday as Julian Nagelsmann’s side ran riot and silenced a stunned BayArena, scoring all five goals by halftime to reclaim top spot in the Bundesliga from Borussia Dortmund and told rivals that denying them a 10th consecutive title certainly won’t be easy, and may be impossible.
A brace each from Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry moved Bayern up to 19 points, one point ahead of Dortmund while Leverkusen remain third with 16.
“It sounds a bit strange when you’ve scored five goals, but we could have had six or seven in the first half today,” Nagelsmann told broadcaster DAZN as Bayern put their hosts to the sword with a brutal and brilliant first-half performance.
Bayern took the lead with just three minutes on the clock from a set piece when an unmarked Dayot Upamecano crossed the ball into the six-yard box where Lewandowski scored with a neat back-heeled flick.
Lewandowski made it 2-0 at the half-hour mark when a Bayern counter-attack allowed left back Alphonso Davies to dribble his way into the box towards the Polish striker, who simply stuck a leg out to tap the ball into the net.
Bayern then scored three goals in three minutes with Thomas Mueller scoring from close range before Gnabry scored twice, benefiting from a Mueller assist and then a lay off from Leon Goretzka as Leverkusen failed to deal with the constant press.
Manuel Neuer kept Leverkusen at bay with some fine saves but he was finally beaten 10 minutes after the restart when Patrik Schick was released down the right channel by Florian Wirtz and the Czech forward fired a shot that went in off the post.
In Sunday’s late game, Augsburg drew 1-1 with Arminia Bielefeld, thwarting both teams’ hopes of putting some distance between themselves and the relegation zone. Augsburg are 16th and Bielefeld 17th in the 18-team top flight.—Agencies
Fati inspires Barca to victory over Valencia
MADRID: Ansu Fati is quickly becoming Barcelona’s go-to player after Lionel Messi’s departure to Paris St Germain.
The 18-year-old Fati made his first start for Barca after a long injury layoff on Sunday, scoring a goal and earning his team a penalty as the Catalan club halted their losing streak by rallying to beat Valencia 3-1 in La Liga at Camp Nou on Sunday.
Memphis Depay and Philippe Coutinho also scored as the victory moved Ronald Koeman’s side up to seventh in the table on 15 points, five behind league leaders Real Sociedad but with a game in hand.
Barca were coming off two defeats before the international break and had won only once in their last six matches in all competitions.
They will next play a critical Champions League game against Dynamo Kyiv on Wednesday and then the first Clasico of the season against Real Madrid.
Despite being allowed a full capacity crowd for the first time since March 2020, Barca’s ground was only half full — and those in attendance were silenced after five minutes as Jose Gaya’s long-range strike swerved into the far corner past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Barca responded well and Fati levelled after 13 minutes with a wonderful curled finished from the edge of the box.
The youngster was then felled inside the box by Gaya four minutes before the break and Depay stepped up to net from the spot.
Coutinho, marred by injuries since returning to Barca, sealed the victory from close range in the 85th for his first goal with the Catalan club in nearly a year following tenacious work from Sergino Dest.
Sevilla edged up to third after a second-half goal from Rafa Mir was enough to give them a battling 1-0 win away at struggling Celta Vigo. They edge ahead of Atletico Madrid on goal difference, three points behind early leaders Real Sociedad with a game in hand.
Fifth-placed Osasuna won 2-1 at Villarreal, while sixth-placed Rayo Vallecano beat Elche 2-1 at home.—Agencies
Second-placed Lens beaten by Montpellier
PARIS: Second-placed RC Lens lost ground with Ligue 1 leaders Paris St Germain when they slumped to a 1-0 defeat at Montpellier on Sunday.
English forward Stephy Mavididi found the back of the net for the hosts early in the second half from Teji Savanier’s pass at La Mosson to lift his team up to 13th on 13 points from 10 games.
Lens have 18 points and trail PSG by nine points. But they are now in danger of being overtaken by Olympique de Marseille, who moved within one point after Matteo Guendouzi’s double inspired them to a 4-1 comeback win against Lorient.
Guendouzi added to goals by Boubacar Kamara and Arkadiusz Milik after an early penalty by Armand Lauriente had put visiting Lorient ahead at the Stade Velodrome.
Third-placed Marseille have a game in hand to play against Nice, who are fourth on 16 points after losing 1-0 at Troyes.
Troyes scored the only goal after just four minutes to move out of the relegation zone. Renaud Ripart’s intelligent backheel allowed Giulian Biancone to cross from the right wing and Mama Balde hammered the ball home.
Rennes, the only team to beat PSG this campaign, swept aside Metz 3-0 while Strasbourg thrashed bottom side St-Etienne 5-1.
Fellow strugglers Bordeaux drew 1-1 with midtable Nantes while Brest remain winless after being held by the same scoreline at home to Reims.
Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2021