BERLIN (AP) — Bayer Leverkusen exposed Bayern Munich’s defensive frailties but was unable to get more than a 1-1 draw from their Bundesliga encounter on Saturday, when Hertha Berlin took another step toward relegation.
Bayern dropped points for the second time in four league games and posed more questions than answers ahead of its Champions League round of 16 second leg against Salzburg on Tuesday. Bayern only drew the first leg 1-1.
Bayern ’keeper Sven Ulreich prevented worse against Leverkusen, though his team made the better start.
Niklas Süle, whose performances had been coming under extra scrutiny since his announced end-of-season switch to Borussia Dortmund, fired Bayern ahead in the 18th minute after Leverkusen failed to properly clear a corner.
Leverkusen equalized in the 36th when Bayern captain Thomas Müller directed Kerem Demirbay’s harmless-looking cross past his own goalkeeper.
The visitors should have gone on to lead with Amine Adli hitting the post after a mistake from Bayern defender Dayot Upamecano amid other good chances before the break.
Bayern stretched its lead to nine points while Leverkusen remained third, 14 points behind.
Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić missed the game after testing positive for COVID-19.
Hertha’s inexorable slide toward relegation continued with a 4-1 loss at home to Eintracht Frankfurt – a team that had lost its last three games.
Hertha had been hoping to challenge for European qualification ever since billionaire Lars Windhorst first invested in the club in 2019, but Tayfun Korkut’s team has yet to win a game this year. Hertha occupies the Bundesliga relegation playoff place with nine rounds remaining, and all of its relegation rivals – Augsburg, Arminia Bielefeld, Stuttgart, even last-placed Greuther Fürth – appear to be in better shape.
Hertha has conceded 13 goals in its last four games, all defeats.
STUTTGART IS BACK
Saša Kalajdžić scored late as Stuttgart came from two goals down to beat Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-2 and repay coach Pellegrino Matarazzo’s faith after nine games without a win.
Borna Sosa epitomized a stirring performance as he raced to the end line to keep the ball in play and cut it back for Kalajdžić to grab a deserved winner in the 83rd minute. Chris Führich and Wataru Endo also scored for Stuttgart, which fell behind to goals from Alassane Plea and Marcus Thuram.
Guns N’ Roses’ “Paradise City” blasted out around the stadium after Stuttgart’s first win since Dec. 11 moved the team just a point behind Hertha.
American defender Joe Scally made his first Bundesliga start since Dec. 18 but couldn’t prevent Gladbach’s 12th defeat of the season.
Earlier, Leipzig scored late to draw with Freiburg 1-1, Wolfsburg defeated Union Berlin 1-0, and Bochum enjoyed a 2-1 win over Fürth.
There were displays of support for Ukraine across the league following its invasion by Russia.
Fans held Ukrainian flags in Munich, where a giant message on the field before kickoff said “Stop the war!” in German and English. Both teams lined up around it.
Referee Daniel Siebert wore an armband in the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag, as did Bayern captain Thomas Müller.
In Berlin, the Ukrainian flag was shown on big screens with an appeal for peace, while the same message was displayed around the stadium on the advertising hoarding before kickoff.
The Wolfsburg team bore peace signs on the front of its jerseys where club backer Volkswagen usually has its logo.