Argentina’s World Cup winner Exequiel Palacios on Sunday struck twice from the penalty spot as Bayer 04 Leverkusen blew the Bundesliga title race wide open with a shock 2-1 win over Bayern Munich.
With a little help from the video assistant referee (VAR), Leverkusen came from behind to hand coach Xabi Alonso a famous win on his first reunion with former club Bayern and keep the champions from regaining top spot.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling. I’m so proud of the way we played today,” said Alonso, who played for Bayern from 2014 to 2017.
Bayern are a point behind leaders Borussia Dortmund with the two sides set to meet in the next round of games on April 1.
“That is now a must-win game for us, because it will be very difficult to win the title otherwise,” Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann said. “It was a deserved defeat today. Apart from the last 10 minutes, they were the better team.”
Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic was scathing in his criticism of the performance.
“We let ourselves be overrun by a team who played in midweek. That’s not what it means to be Bayern Munich,” he said.
Bayern survived an early chance from Jeremie Frimpong before taking the lead themselves when Odilon Kossounou deflected a Joshua Kimmich shot into his own net.
However, the hosts continued to cause Bayern problems and fully deserved their equalizer from the penalty spot on 55 minutes.
Amine Adli was initially booked for diving after he was clipped by Benjamin Pavard, but the decision was reversed by the VAR and Palacios converted from the spot.
The scene repeated itself 20 minutes later when Adli was brought down by Dayot Upamecano just inside the penalty area.
Once again, he was booked for diving, and once again, Palacios smashed the ball into the corner after the intervention of the VAR.
Elsewhere, Union Berlin gave their UEFA Champions League hopes a boost as a rare goal from Rani Khedira helped them to a 2-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt.
Khedira stabbed in the opener to score only his seventh goal in 194 Bundesliga appearances and lift Union back into third place.
“It’s also my first goal for Union, so I am very happy,” Khedira told DAZN.
Frankfurt had the lion’s share of the chances in the first half, but the hosts took the lead just after halftime when Khedira prodded the ball home from close range after Frankfurt failed to clear a corner.
Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp was left blushing when he let the ball through his legs to allow Kevin Behrens to double the lead.
Union are now two points ahead of SC Freiburg, who climbed to fourth with a 1-1 draw away to FSV Mainz 05.
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