Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen extended its lead at the top of the Bundesliga on Sunday with a 1-1 draw at fellow high-fliers Stuttgart.
Leverkusen playmaker Florian Wirtz scored a second-half equaliser as the visitors came from behind to steal a point from in-form Stuttgart and strengthen its grip on the top spot.
Alonso’s side is now four points clear of Bayern Munich at the top of the table after the champion suffered a shock 5-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.
It remains the only club in the league which is still unbeaten this season, having won 11 of its first 14 games.
Bayern’s defeat had only increased the excitement around this top-of-the-table clash, and the game lived up to its billing in an enthralling first half.
Stuttgart pinned Leverkusen back for much of the opening exchanges, forcing a string of superb saves from Lukas Hradecky and a desperate goal-line block from Edmond Tapsoba.
Hradecky in particular was imperious, first denying Deniz Undav with a superb dive to his left and then sticking out a leg to stop Serhou Guirassy in a one-on-one.
Leverkusen remained dangerous on the break, with Amine Adli hitting the woodwork and Victor Boniface skewing a shot wide.
But Stuttgart deserved its lead when it finally broke through just before half-time.
Josha Vagnoman unpicked the Leverkusen defence with a darting run into the box from the right, before squaring the ball to an unmarked Chris Fuehrich for a tap-in.
Alonso’s side struck back immediately after the break, Wirtz finding the net with a brilliant first-time finish after Boniface had outmuscled Dan-Axel Zagadou on the left wing.
The equaliser turned the game on its head, and it was Leverkusen who had the better chances in the second half.
Granit Xhaka hit the post with a long-range effort, while Jonathan Tah almost snatched victory with a sweetly timed half-volley late on.
- La Liga: Carvajal seals Madrid’s wild comeback win over Almeria
- Asian Cup 2023: Thailand moves closer to knockout stage with scoreless draw against Oman
- Bayern suffers shock home loss to Werder to drop seven points behind
- Kalinga Super Cup 2024: Mumbai City FC edges Chennaiyin FC 1-0 to qualify for semifinals
- Ranji Trophy 2023-24: There’s belief in the group after important win, says TN skipper Sai Kishore