Palacios scores late winner for Bundesliga leaders Leverkusen

AFP , Saturday 13 Jan 2024

Exequiel Palacios scored in the fourth minute of injury time to earn Bayer Leverkusen a 1-0 win at Augsburg, keeping them four points clear of chasers Bayern Munich.

Exequiel Palacios
Leverkusen's Exequiel Palacios, right, shoots to score his team's first goal, during the German Bundesliga football match between FC Augsburg and Bayer Leverkusen, at WWK Arena, in Augsburg, Germany, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024. Photo: AP


Bayern's 3-0 home win over Hoffenheim on Friday turned up the heat on leaders Leverkusen.

The visitors looked set to drop points for just the fourth time this season, but the Argentinian world champion volleyed the ball in with almost the last kick of the game from an Alex Grimaldo cross.

The goal may prove crucial in the title race as Leverkusen restored their four-point lead atop the table, with second-placed Bayern having a game in hand.

On the first weekend of fixtures since Franz Beckenbauer died aged 78, each match began after a moment of silence and a tribute to the German football legend.

Leverkusen looked slick early, carving out several chances as they dominated possession, but lacked the final killer blow without injured striker Victor Boniface.

Augsburg looked to have taken the lead through Phillip Tietz with 20 minutes remaining, but the striker's goal was flagged for offside.

Grimaldo found Palacios in the final minute of injury time, the midfielder slamming a perfect shot into the goal before being embraced by his elated teammates.

Elsewhere, Eintracht Frankfurt won 1-0 at RB Leipzig to leapfrog Borussia Dortmund into fifth place.

Frankfurt took the lead just seven minutes in, Ansgar Knauff slamming a brilliant curved pass from Niels Nkounkou into the net.

Leipzig pushed for an equaliser but Frankfurt held on, consigning the German Cup holders to their first home loss of the season.

Union Berlin held Freiburg to a scoreless draw away, continuing their solid if unspectacular form under new manager Nenad Bjelica.

Union had lost nine league games in a row prior to the Croat's arrival, but have now lost just one in four to stay one spot clear of the relegation spots.

Cologne missed a chance to move out of the automatic relegation places, conceding a second-half goal to draw 1-1 with promoted Heidenheim.

Strugglers Mainz fought from a goal down to draw 1-1 at home with Wolfsburg, picking up a valuable point to keep them above the relegation spots.

Later on Saturday, Borussia Dortmund can take advantage of Leipzig's loss by moving to within three points of fourth place with a win at last-placed Darmstadt.

England winger Jadon Sancho in line to play for the visitors for the first time since 2021, having returned this week on a six-month loan from Manchester United.

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