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In that final moment, as things became desperate, Xabi Alonso and Harry Kane made the same reaction, rocking sharply backwards with apprehension.

Kane was in possession on the edge of Leverkusen’s area, Alonso was stood in his technical area unable to do anymore. But England’s captain over-hit his pass, the BayArena erupted and the man who might just be Jurgen Klopp‘s successor had his biggest moment as a manager.

This night could not have been more wildly contrasting. Where everything went wrong for Kane and his ramshackle Bayern Munich team, Bayer Leverkusen were breathtaking, executing the plan Alonso had devised so perfectly that they dismantled Germany’s perennially champions.

By the end, it was 3-0 but it could have been double that scoreline. Leverkusen ran through Munich like a bolt of lightning, scorching them and leaving them smouldering. Alonso’s fingerprints were all over it from start to finish. No wonder he is favourite to be next Liverpool‘s next manager.

Kick-off was delayed. There have been protests across Germany all weekend about the prospect of outside investment in the Bundesliga and it was no different here, with tennis balls, rubber toys and other objects littering the home goalmouth.

Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 Bayern Munich: Xabi Alonso’s Bundesliga leaders dismantle champions to open up a five-point gap… as Josip Stanisic and Alex Grimaldo net and Jeremie Frimpong scores a screamer

Bayer Leverkusen moved five points clear of Bayern Munich after an impressive 3-0 victory

Jeremie Frimpong added gloss to the scoreline after thumping home an audaucious effort

Jeremie Frimpong added gloss to the scoreline after thumping home an audaucious effort

Xabi Alonso's side remain in pole position to win the Bundesliga after beating their title rivals

Xabi Alonso’s side remain in pole position to win the Bundesliga after beating their title rivals

Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 Bayern Munich: MATCH FACTS

Bayer Leverkusen: Hradecky, Tapsoba, Tah, Hincapie, Stanisic, Xhaka, Andrich, Grimaldo (Puerta, 90), Tella (Frimpong, 65), Wirtz (Hlozek, 90), Adli (Hofmann, 82)

Subs not used: Iglesias, Schick, Kovar, Mbamba, Fosu-Mensah

Goals: Stanisic 18, Grimaldo 50, Frimpong 90+5

Booked: Tapsoba, Adli, Hradecky

Manager: Xabi Alonso 

Bayern Munich: Neuer, Upamecano (Kimmich, 60), Dier, Min-Jae, Mazraoui, Pavlovic (Muller, 60), Goretzka (Tel, 71), Boey (Guerreiro, 81), Sane, Musiala (Choupo-Moting, 81), Kane

Subs not used: de Ligt, Ulreich, Zvonarek, Aznou

Booked: Boey, Goretzka

Manager: Thomas Tuchel 

You wondered whether the false start would have a negative impact on Leverkusen, who haven’t been in this position for years, but the opposite was true: Bayern were the team riddled with anxiety and simply couldn’t get going once the contest got underway.

Take Eric Dier: his first three actions were two massively over-hit long balls that careered out of play and a mis-control that almost led to him being caught in possession. He wasn’t alone, though, and it said everything that Manuel Neuer, the totem of this club, was similarly shaky.

But don’t they say teams reflect the character of their managers? You couldn’t help but make a comparison between Thomas Tuchel, who leapt about and manically grabbed his baseball cap in a manner that reminded you of Basil Fawlty before an impending calamity.

Alonso, on the other hand, exuded cool, sartorially and professionally. Yes, there was a burning intensity – he let rip at Bayern’s Alexsandar Pavlovic when the midfielder threw himself to the ground theatrically – but he was always in control. So were his team.

Leverkusen’s football in the first period was, in moments, breathtaking – short, rat-a-tat-tat passes pinging triangularly in between black shirts. 

One moment it would seem they were boxed, the next acres of space had opened up and they were away. This, be sure, was their coach’s influence.

Talisman Harry Kane was helpless to prevent Bayern from falling to a costly defeat on the road

Talisman Harry Kane was helpless to prevent Bayern from falling to a costly defeat on the road

Josip Stanisic made the breakthrough but refused to celebrate against his parent club

Josip Stanisic made the breakthrough but refused to celebrate against his parent club

Such nimble play provided the avenue for the opening goal. 

Leverkusen went thrillingly back to front in the 18th minute, forcing Dayot Upamecano to make a desperate clearance. But he succeeded only in finding a touch and from the resulting throw-in, the hosts took the lead.

Bayern dithered, Robert Andrich charged down the left and fizzed a ball across the six-yard box that demanded a finishing touch. Arriving at the back post unnoticed, Josip Stanisic did just that. The Croatia right-back refused to celebrate –he’s on loan from Bayern – but he was the only who didn’t.

A huge goal and a huge moment. There is a long way to go in this race but Leverkusen look equipped for the challenge. They are fresh and vibrant, the antithesis of Bayern, who resembled a stale loaf. Kane would have imagined stamping his authority all over this fixture but he barely got a touch.

At one point in the second period, he tried to impart some instructions but nobody was listening. A penny for his thoughts when, on the day Tottenham moved back into the top four, he saw the medal he craves so desperately slide a little further from his reach.

Stanisic (left) arrived at the back post to thump home a cross and raised his hands to apologise

Stanisic (left) arrived at the back post to thump home a cross and raised his hands to apologise

Alex Grimaldo doubled Leverkusen's lead after steaming in at the far post and finding the net

Alex Grimaldo doubled Leverkusen’s lead after steaming in at the far post and finding the net

Alonso, the heavy favourite for the Liverpool hot seat, celebrated with his players at full-time

Alonso, the heavy favourite for the Liverpool hot seat, celebrated with his players at full-time

By that point, Leverkusen had doubled their lead and how beautifully they did it. 

Down the left side they went again, Nathan Tella inviting Alejandro Grimaldo to dash forward, the Spaniard giving the ball back to the young Nigerian before bursting into the area to the area: one-two, one-two, 2-0.

Grimaldo’s finish was glorious, speared high into a tight angle that Neuer couldn’t protect. More bedlam. Up in the stands, Rudi Voeller – a Leverkusen legend and one of the German greats – sat shaking his head, seemingly unable to comprehend what was happening.

He could believe everything he was seeing, all right. Europe’s longest unbeaten run – 31 games –continues and the gloss was applied when Jeremie Frimpong scored from an improbable angle, with Neuer stranded up the other end of the field.

All over the continent, they will be watching what is unfolding here. And you can be sure they will be paying the closest of attention on Merseyside.



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