Lacklustre Bayern settle for draw at Leverkusen
BERLIN: Bayern Munich stayed eight points clear at the top of the Bundesliga after playing out a lacklustre 0-0 draw at Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday which snapped their four-game winning run in the league.
With Bayern coach Pep Guardiola in the spotlight this week following his agreement to manage Manchester City next season, Bayern seemed distracted in the first half, missing their usual pace and creative play.
With in-form Thomas Mueller on the bench, the visitors were harassed by hard-working Leverkusen and could not break through with striker Robert Lewandowski cutting a lone figure up front.
The hosts looked more likely to score until Bayern turned the tables early in the second half with the introduction of Mueller, who carved out two quick chances in succession on the hour.
But they had to pull back to protect the draw after Xabi Alonso was dismissed with a second booking in the 84th minute following a foul on forward Javier Hernandez.
"We were unable to string four, five passes together in the first half," Guardiola told reporters. "We did it better in the second half but it's never easy in Leverkusen. We had a few quick breaks but lacked that final pass."
The Bavarians top the standings with 53 points, while Leverkusen are fifth on 32.
Second-placed Borussia Dortmund failed to gain ground on Bayern following their own goalless draw at Hertha Berlin earlier on Saturday despite the return of midfielder Marco Reus and playmaker Ilkay Guendogan.
With former Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho in the stands as a guest of Dortmund, surprise package Hertha, third on 35 points, refused to buckle.
Schalke 04 made it two wins in a row when they beat VfL Wolfsburg 3-0 to move up to fourth spot on 33 points with Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar grabbing the lead in the 24th minute.
Talented 22-year-old Johannes Geis doubled it with a free kick 11 minutes later and substitute Alessandro Schoepf completed their win with a fine shot three minutes from time.
The Wolves, last season's runners-up and German Cup winners, are now without a win in their last seven league games stretching back to November and have dropped to eighth place.
VfB Suttgart made it four wins in a row when they crushed Eintracht Frankfurt 4-2 to move further away from the relegation zone they had occupied for much of the season and into 11th place with 24 points.