Unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen claim historic first ever Bundesliga title

Xabi Alonso's side thrash Werder Bremen 5-0 to clinch top spot with five games to spare

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Bayer Leverkusen won the Bundesliga title for the first time in their 120-year history on Sunday after a 5-0 victory over Werder Bremen ended Bayern Munich's 11-year domination of the German top-flight.

Xabi Alonso's side knew victory would secure the silverware with five games to spare, and there were no signs of nerves as they produced a performance worthy of champions.

Leverkusen's historic title, coming after many near misses, keeps their dream of a treble alive while also permanently dispelling their cruel 'Neverkusen' nickname.

A hat-trick from Florian Wirtz and goals from Victor Boniface and Granit Xhaka extended their unbeaten run to 43 games in all competitions (38 wins, five draws).

Leverkusen are now on 79 points - the highest total after 29 games in German football history - and are 16 clear of second-placed Bayern and third-placed Stuttgart.

"It's impossible to describe. Personally I can't quite grasp what we did. I needed to go back to the locker room to clear my head," Xhaka told Dazn.

"We've already started the party with the supporters."

Xhaka, who joined from Arsenal in the summer, said they "could not imagine what we would achieve at the start of the season".

"It was when we started winning some matches, with a dominant style of play, that's when I realised we could do a little better than just making the Champions League," he added.

The Leverkusen bus arrived at the stadium 90 minutes before kick-off, weaving through a sea of red and black.

Normally known as Bismarck Street, fans had stuck temporary signs saying 'Xabi Alonso Street' along the main road in honour of their record-breaking coach.

Alonso looked ahead to Thursday's Europa League trip to London to face West Ham, making seven changes and benching stars Wirtz, Jeremie Frimpong and Alex Grimaldo, the latter for the first time in the league this season.

Piero Hincapie, Grimaldo's replacement, had an early effort at goal saved but it would be the fit-again Boniface, making his first start since mid-December, who put the home side in front.

With 22 minutes gone, Jonas Hofmann was felled in the box by Bremen's Julian Malatini, with the referee pointing to the spot after VAR urged him to view the contact again on the monitor.

Boniface stepped up and nervelessly slotted the penalty past a helpless Michael Zetterer to send the home fans into raptures.

Hofmann was almost the provider again shortly before half-time, his pass finding Amine Adli who fired against the crossbar.

Bremen started the second-half strongly but their hopes of spoiling the party were snuffed out on the 60-minute mark, Boniface finding Xhaka who unleashed a long-range rocket before slapping his badge in front of the ecstatic home fans.

Wirtz, who came on at half-time for Adli, replicated Xhaka's effort eight minutes later from almost the same spot on the pitch.

Wirtz added another with seven minutes remaining before sealing his hat-trick in the 90th minute as Leverkusen rid themselves of their nearly men tag in style.

Updated: April 14, 2024, 7:32 PM