Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen moves 10 points clear atop Bundesliga with 10 rounds to go

AP , Sunday 3 Mar 2024

Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen took a small step toward winning the Bundesliga title on Sunday with a 2-0 derby win at 10-man Cologne.

Leverkusen s
Bayer Leverkusen s Argentine midfielder #25 Exequiel Palacios (C) reacts with Bayer Leverkusen s Spanish head coach Xabi Alonso and teammates at the end of the German first division Bundesliga football match FC Cologne v Bayer 04 Leverkusen in Cologne, western Germany on March 3, 2024. Bayer Leverkusen won the match 2-0. Photo: AFp


Goals from Jeremie Frimpong and Álex Grimaldo in each half helped Leverkusen capitalize on Bayern Munich’s 2-2 draw at Freiburg on Friday to move 10 points clear at the top with 10 rounds remaining.

Leverkusen also stretched its German record unbeaten run to 34 games across all competitions this season. The team hasn't lost since a defeat to Bochum on the final day last season.

Referee Tobias Stieler was busy from the start. He sent off Cologne’s Jan Thielmann after a VAR review in the 14th minute for stepping on the back of Granit Xhaka’s ankle, and he booked three more players inside the first 30 minutes as the tackles flew.

Frimpong broke the deadlock in the 37th, converting from close range after some patient buildup play from Leverkusen.

Cologne emerged with more courage after the break and almost equalized in the 51st when Sargis Adamyan struck the right post with a volley.

The home fans did their best to rouse their team as the visitors seemed content to maintain possession without taking too many risks.

But Grimaldo finally sealed the result in the 73rd – again after patient buildup play.

Leverkusen was fighting relegation when Spaniard Alonso took over as coach in October 2022.

Hoffenheim was to play Werder Bremen later.

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