Bayer Leverkusen rescue 45-game unbeaten streak with 97th-minute goal in wild scenes

Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen extended their record unbeaten streak to 45 games and counting – but they did it the hard way.

Xabi Alonso’s side needed a 97th-minute intervention to rescue a 1-1 draw on the road to Borussia Dortmund on Sunday. But the Factory Squad were seconds from seeing their undefeated season halted before Josip Stanisic’s last-ditch intervention.

Bayer Leverkusen rescue 45-game unbeaten streak with 97th-minute goal in wild scenes

Bayer Leverkusen struck in the 97th minute to keep their unbeaten campaign alive

The defender – who’s nearing the end of his season-long loan from Bayern Munich – rose high to meet a Florian Wirtz corner deep into injury time at the Westfalenstadion. And his reward was the honour of ensuring Leverkusen still have the opportunity to see out their entire season undefeated.

Alonso’s men have already tied up their maiden Bundesliga title and are guaranteed at least one more shot at silverware when they meet Kaiserslautern in the DFB-Pokal final on May 25. They’ll also face off against Daniele de Rossi’s Roma in the Europa League semi-finals hoping to complete a historic treble.

That means Leverkusen could extend their pristine run to 54 games at more this campaign, though the current mark of 45 is already a German record. And the competition isn’t even close, with Hansi Flick’s Bayern team of 2020 the nearest after previously going 32 games without a loss in all competitions.

The achievement is all the more incredible considering this is Alonso’s first full season as a senior manager, having joined his current club midway through the 2022/23 campaign. Leverkusen’s last competitive defeat came in the form of a 3-0 disappointment at Bochum on the final day of last season (May 2023).

It’s a testament to Alonso’s squad that Leverkusen have already made history this season but refuse to show complacency in their work. And it was fitting that homegrown asset Wirtz – one of the club’s most prominent stars this season – teed up the touch that preserved their record.

Leverkusen will be back at home on Saturday and host a tough Stuttgart side, who have staged their own surprise this season and are currently third in the Bundesliga. Alonso & Co. will then travel to Rome for the first of two Europa League semi-final legs against Roma.

Barely one month remains until a 2023/24 campaign that will go down in Leverkusen history is completed in its entirety. But thanks to Stanisic, the upstarts are still living in a world where an unbeaten term that would have been unthinkable last August remains within reach.