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Leverkusen Extend Bundesliga Lead To 10 Points With Derby Win

They ran out deserved winners of a feisty Rhine derby, despite a spirited effort by the Bundesliga strugglers who played with 10 men from the 15th minute.


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Bayer Leverkusen’s Spanish defender #20 Alejandro Grimaldo (2L) Bayer Leverkusen’s German midfielder #10 Florian Wirtz (2R) and teammates celebrate the 2-0 goal during the German first division Bundesliga football match FC Cologne v Bayer 04 Leverkusen in Cologne, western Germany on March 3, 2024. (Photo by INA FASSBENDER / AFP)

 

Bayer Leverkusen tightened their grip at the top of the Bundesliga with a 2-0 victory over 10-man Cologne to pull 10 points clear of Bayern Munich.

Xabi Alonso’s side were handed the opportunity to stretch their lead over Bayern after the serial champions faltered again, only managing a 2-2 draw at Freiburg on Friday night.

“Ten points are a lot,” said Leverkusen’s Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka.

“But it’s not over yet. There are still many, many more points to play for and as long as it’s not decided mathematically, we cannot say that it’s done. We have to keep working and pick up a few more points as a team.”

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Leverkusen, who are on a German record-extending 34 games unbeaten in all competitions, made the short trip to Cologne.

They ran out deserved winners of a feisty Rhine derby, despite a spirited effort by the Bundesliga strugglers who played with 10 men from the 15th minute.

The game’s opener was crafted in the 38th minute by Alejandro Grimaldo. His low cross from the left was flicked on by Patrik Schick and stabbed in from close range by Jeremie Frimpong, for his eighth league goal of the season.

Grimaldo locked up the points in the 73rd minute, squeezing the ball in at the near post after fine work by impact substitute Amine Adli.

Forward Jan Thielmann was shown a straight red in the 15th minute after raking his studs down Xhaka’s Achilles.

That decision raised the temperature inside the RheinEnergieStadion, with referee Tobias Stieler faced with a Cologne team and 40,000 home fans in rebellious mood in the early spring sunshine.

Cologne, who occupy the relegation play-off place and remain eight points adrift of safety, adjusted well after the red card and were unlucky to twice hit the post.

But Leverkusen controlled large periods of the contest as they took another step toward their first ever Bundesliga title with 10 games left to play.

AFP