Bundesliga: Kane scores twice to end brief goal drought as Bayern keeps pace with Leverkusen

The 11-time defending champion stayed four points behind Leverkusen – the only unbeaten team left in the league – despite having to contend with the absences of multiple players.

Published : Dec 18, 2023 08:24 IST , BERLIN - 3 MINS READ

Bayern’s Harry Kane, centre, celebrates with teammates after scoring his side’s opening goal. | Photo Credit: Matthias Schrader/AP

Harry Kane ended his three-game goal drought on Sunday by scoring twice as Bayern Munich stayed on Bundesliga leader Bayer Leverkusen’s heels with a 3-0 win over Stuttgart.

Bayern was under pressure going into the late game following Leverkusen’s 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt – the team that routed Bayern 5-1 the weekend before.

But the 11-time defending champion stayed four points behind Leverkusen – the only unbeaten team left in the league – despite having to contend with the absences of Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka and goalkeeper Sven Ulreich at short notice because of flu. Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel only had 15 outfield players available to face Stuttgart, which drew with Leverkusen 1-1 last weekend.

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But one of those players was Kane, who already had 18 goals in 13 Bundesliga games, albeit without scoring in his last three appearances, including two Champions League matches.

“It felt like forever since I scored,” Kane said.

Bayern fans restrained their early support to continue a weekend of protest against the German league’s plan to bring in an outside investor, but they couldn’t help celebrating when Kane scored in the second minute.

Leroy Sané got past Alexander Nübel in the Stuttgart goal and slid the ball over for Kane’s easy finish.

Nübel denied Konrad Laimer a second goal before the fans made their presence known with a huge cheer in the 12th – a reference to their role as a football team’s 12th player.

Nübel was to get more opportunities to show his prowess to thwart Bayern’s counterattacks, and both Kim Min-jae and Thomas Müller had goals ruled out for offside in the first half.

But Kane wasn’t to be denied his 20th of the season, headed in from close range in the 55th after Kim headed back a free kick.

Kim made it 3-0 in the 63rd with a header to a corner delivered by the 19-year-old Aleksandar Pavlović, who was making his second league start. Pavlović looked right at home.

“Probably our best performance of the season,” Kane said.

LEVERKUSEN LEADS

Victor Boniface scored and set up two goals for Leverkusen to send Bayern a message earlier with its 3-0 win over visiting Frankfurt — a result that stretched Leverkusen’s unbeaten start to the season to 24 games (21 wins, three draws) across all competitions.

Among German teams, only Hamburger SV started with an equally long unbeaten run in 1982.

Boniface broke the deadlock in the 14th minute with Leverkusen’s first chance. Florian Wirtz passed to the Nigeria forward on the left. Facing two defenders, Boniface tried a feint, then cut inside and unleashed a low shot inside the far corner.

Frankfurt’s defense kept the home team in check until the 51st, when Jeremie Frimpong prodded home after Kevin Trapp saved Boniface’s initial effort.

Wirtz made it 3-0 with a wonderful finish in the 57th, chipping the ball over Trapp after Boniface played him through on the left.

FREIBURG EXTENDS WINNING RUN

Freiburg substitutes Michael Gregoritsch and Roland Sallai scored in the second half to beat 10-man Cologne 2-0 in the early game.

Cologne defender Julian Chabot was sent off with his second yellow card 10 minutes before Gregoritsch opened the scoring. Sallai made sure of the win in injury time for Freiburg’s third consecutive league win.