BERLIN, March 20 (AP): Amine Adli was twice booked for diving, twice excused, and Bayer Leverkusen scored twice from the resulting penalties to upset Bayern Munich 2-1.
Bayern’s third defeat of the season left Borussia Dortmund top of the Bundesliga on Sunday.
Referee Tobias Stieler had VAR to thank — twice — after getting it wrong initially both times. He apologized to Adli on each occasion after consulting replays which showed the French player had, in fact, been fouled first by Benjamin Pavard, then Dayot Upamecano.
“It was the perfect example today of great collaboration with the video assistant,” Stieler said. “He gets a lot of complaints and is always very harshly criticized. Today it was a lifesaver for the game.”
Exequiel Palacios scored both penalties to end Bayern’s four-game winning run across all competitions and leave Dortmund one point clear with nine rounds remaining.
“It was a very important game for us. We knew that before the game but were unable to show it on the field over the 90 minutes, and we’ll need to ask ourselves why,” Bayern forward Thomas Müller said.
Bayern next hosts Dortmund on April 1.
“Now we want to get through the international break without any injuries,” Müller said. ”And then of course straight afterward we have a real cracker against Dortmund in our home stadium. We imagined ourselves in a different position going into it.”
Bayern had to rely on goalkeeper Yann Sommer to deny Kerem Demirbay, then Alphonso Davies to clear from the lurking Jeremie Frimpong in the early stages.
Joshua Kimmich scored with Bayern’s first attack in the 22nd. A deflection took the ball past the helpless Lukáš Hrádecký in the Leverkusen goal.
Pavard then conceded the first penalty. Stieler initially booked Adli for diving, then changed his mind after seeing replays showing how Pavard caught his compatriot’s boot with his studs. Adli actually lost his boot and flung it to the ground in frustration after being booked. But Stieler subsequently withdrew the yellow card.
Palacios made no mistake from the spot to equalize in the 55th.
The same situation repeated after Stieler again booked Adli for diving in the 70th. Again Palacios scored.
“In the end both teams were happy because the right decision was made and that’s what counts,” Stieler said.
The win was Xabi Alonso’s first as Leverkusen coach over his former club.
“I’m very happy, satisfied and proud,” said the Spanish coach who referred to Leverkusen’s busy schedule after its 2-0 win over Ferencvaros in the Europa League on Thursday.
UNION AGAIN IMPRESSES
Former Germany midfielder Sami Khedira watched as his brother Rani Khedira led Union Berlin to third place with a 2-0 win over visiting Eintracht Frankfurt.
Rani Khedira was captain in place of the absent Christopher Trimmel and he broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute with the final say in a goalmouth scramble after a corner. His older brother, who last played for city rival Hertha Berlin before retiring in 2021, held up his mobile phone amid the celebrations.
Union forward Sheraldo Becker had a fine strike ruled out for offside before substitute Kevin Behrens sealed the win after a long kick from Union goalkeeper Frederik Rönnow in the 75th. Behrens shot through the legs of Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp for his fifth Bundesliga goal of the season.
It stretched Union’s unbeaten run at home in the league to 18 games including last season and lifted the team two points clear of Freiburg, held 1-1 by Mainz in Sunday’s late game.
ONISIWO’S LATE STRIKE
Karim Onisiwo scored in the sixth minute of injury time to salvage a point for Mainz against Freiburg, which looked to be heading for a win thanks to the quick-thinking Ritsu Doan, who capitalized on a defensive mix-up to score in the 55th.
Onisiwo came on as a substitute five minutes later and had the final say when Ludovic Ajorque set him up to equalize from close range.
It stretched both sides’ unbeaten league runs to six games.
Freiburg moved fourth, a point ahead of Leipzig, which lost to Bochum on Saturday.