Robert Lewandowski's last-gasp strike sent Bayern Munich top of the table as Bayer Leverkusen's unbeaten Bundesliga record this season was dramatically ended with a 2-1 defeat. (More Football News)
A stunning Patrik Schick volley put Leverkusen in front at BayArena on Saturday, but the European and Bundesliga champions came from behind to extend their unbeaten run to 19 matches and replace the hosts at the summit.
Lewandowski celebrated being crowned Best FIFA Men's Player for 2020 this week by taking advantage of a mix-up between Jonathan Tah and goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky to head home late in the first half.
The Poland striker won it with just about the last kick of the game, Tah punished for another mistake as Bayern went two points clear in their last game of the year.
Leverkusen caught Bayern napping with a short corner to take the lead 14 minutes in, Schick brilliantly volleying Nadiem Amiri's inviting cross beyond a motionless Manuel Neuer.
Leory Sane came on for the injured Coman after Schick had a goal ruled out for offside and Bayern were gifted an equaliser two minutes before the break, an unmarked Lewandowski heading into the empty net when Tah and goalkeeper Hradecky made a mess of trying to deal with Thomas Muller's cross.
Lewandowski planted another free header over the crossbar as Hansi Flick's side finished the first half strongly and the striker should have tried his luck rather than attempting a pass after turning sharply in the penalty area early in the second half.
Amiri stung Neuer's palms with a rasping drive and Hradecky superbly tipped Serge Gnabry's shot around the post as both sides pushed for a second goal in a gripping encounter.
Joshua Kimmich made his return from injury off the bench in a double change that saw substitute Sane withdrawn, the winger looking understandably unimpressed to be hauled off midway through the second half.
Jamal Musiala struck an upright with a measured right-foot shot from the edge of the area before a dramatic final twist, Kimmich pouncing on Tah’s heavy touch and feeding Lewandowski, who drilled home with the aid of a deflection.
What does it mean? Champions end 2020 on ominous note
Bayern have taken on all comers under Flick this year and they will take some stopping in 2021, this victory striking a big blow to Leverkusen and their other rivals for the title.
Leverkusen were unfortunate not to take a point from an entertaining encounter, but only had themselves to blame after conceding two poor goals.
Lethal Lewandowski unstoppable
Lewandowski appears to be unstoppable and the prolific Pole ought to have had a hat-trick as he reached 20 goals for the season before Christmas.
The former Borussia Dortmund man has 16 goals from 13 Bundesliga games this season. He had only netted four times in 17 top-flight matches against Leverkusen before popping up with a decisive double.
Lewandowski had seven shots and although only two of those were on target, they were enough to send his side to the summit.
Torment for Tah
Leverkusen defender Tah will not want to watch this game again, particularly Lewandowski's winner.
He failed to control the ball and the fit-again Kimmich nipped in, with Lewandowski then doing what he does best. Tah also totally misjudged Muller's cross in the first half and, although his keeper was also badly at fault, the centre-back left one of the best players in the world unmarked to level.
Tah lost possession 13 times, won just 37.5 per cent of his duels and could be having nightmares about his display during the mid-season break.
Key Opta Facts
- Lewandowski scored 17 goals in the first 13 matchdays, equalling the Bundesliga record of Gerd Muller (1968-69 and 1976-77).
- Bayern went 1-0 down in their last seven Bundesliga games – their longest such run in Bundesliga history.
- Neuer has to wait until 2021 to equal Oliver Kahn's record of 196 clean sheets in the Bundesliga.
- Kimmich's assist for Lewandowski's winning goal was his fifth in the Bundesliga this season. He only needs two more to equal his tally from the whole of the 2019-20 campaign.
Bayern's first assignment of 2021 will be at home against Mainz on January 3, while Leverkusen start the new year with a trip to Eintracht Frankfurt a day earlier.