May 28, 2024

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Leverkusen beat Werder Bremen 5-0 to win football’s Bundesliga with five games remaining, ending Bayern’s run of 11 consecutive titles.

Undefeated Bayer Leverkusen have secured their first Bundesliga title with a 5-0 victory over Werder Bremen, breaking an 11-year stranglehold on the league by Bayern Munich.

Xabi Alonso’s team, who have now gone a league-record 29 matches without defeat this season to secure their first trophy since 1993, have a 16-point lead over Bayern with five matches remaining.

They can add more titles this season, having reached the German Cup final and the Europa League quarterfinals, where they have a 2-0 first-leg advantage over West Ham United.

Leverkusen left nothing to chance and sealed their title win at the first opportunity with Florian Wirtz bagging a hat trick in a win that stretched their unbeaten run across all competitions to a remarkable 43 games this season.

“I cannot describe this,” Germany international Wirtz said. “I personally can still not realise this has happened. I will need a few moments in the changing room to understand what we have achieved.

“We could not have imagined something like this when you see how the previous season went.”

Xabi Alonso, who took over as coach when Leverkusen was in the relegation zone in October 2022, reflected on ending Bayern’s dominance.

“Perhaps it’s healthy for the Bundesliga, also for German football, for another team to win,” said Alonso, who won three Bundesliga titles with Bayern as a player from 2015-17.

“It’s a great joy and we have to enjoy it. We need a bit more time to realise what we’ve achieved. But it’s a super moment and yes, we’ll see what happens next,” Alonso said, referring to the other trophies that his team can win this season.

“But now is the time to celebrate.”

Victor Boniface – starting a Bundesliga game for the first time since December because of injury – settled Leverkusen’s nerves with the opening goal from the penalty spot before Granit Xhaka hit an audacious long-range shot to make it 2-0 with half an hour to go.

Bremen folded after that with substitute Wirtz scoring a goal very similar to Xhaka’s, then another on the counter in the 83rd minute, then a third to end the game, his first career hat trick.

Fans had already stormed onto the field when Leverkusen scored its fourth goal with seven minutes to go, and the final minutes were played in thick red smoke from supporters’ pyrotechnics while players on Leverkusen’s bench clapped along to songs, danced and hugged one another.

The fifth goal in the 90th minute brought more fans onto the field – hundreds this time – and the referee ended the game amid confusion and jubilation. Thousands of supporters crowded the field, waving flags, flares and cardboard copies of the Bundesliga trophy.

Leverkusen had finally shed its reputation as perennial runner-up after five second-place finishes in the league and one in the Champions League.

The title puts the spotlight firmly on an industrial city of just under 170,000, which has been overshadowed by larger, more famous neighbours.

“Not in Cologne and Dusseldorf, no, we’re at home here,” is the third line of the club song played just before kick-off.

The club started as a workers’ team for the Bayer pharmaceutical giant 120 years ago and is a rare exception in Germany, where most clubs are majority controlled by members under the so-called 50+1 rule.



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