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Leverkusen 0 Bayern 1

Reds edge tense top-of-the-table thriller

Bayern’s successful start to the season continued as a first-half Luca Toni goal gave the Bundesliga leaders a narrow victory over Bayer Leverkusen, who started the day second in the table, in front of 22,500 spectators in the BayArena.

The first half saw a host of chances created at either end, including what seemed a valid goal from Miroslav Klose that was deemed not to have crossed the line and a Leverkusen shot that hit the post, before Klose and Toni combined to give Bayern the lead.

A more attritional second half saw fewer scoring opportunities, but the Reds held firm at the back to record an important victory than consolidates their position at the top of the table with a four-point lead over Schalke, who move up to second place after Leverkusen’s defeat, and five ahead of surprise package Karlsrühe.

Rensing steps in for Kahn

Bayern were faced with a last-minute change in goal after Oliver Kahn injured his elbow while warming up. Michael Rensing, who has yet to lose in a competitive game for the first team, stood in for his first appearance of the season.

However, the first action was at the other end as Zé Roberto sent Klose through in the first minute, and his pass only narrowly evaded strike partner Toni. The ball was cleared for a corner from which Martin Demichelis shot well over.

But within three minutes the visitors were on the back foot as Bayer made their first clear chance and Marcell Jansen had to clear a header from Manuel Friedrich off the line. After six minutes Rensing was in action for the first time, saving well from striker Stefan Kießling.

Klose’s ‘goal’ missed by the officials

There was no let-up in the pace as chances were created at either end. First Zé Roberto broke through on his own in the 10th minute, only to be denied by a fingertip save from Rene Adler in the Leverkusen goal. But just with a minute it was Bayern’s turn to breathe a sigh of relief as Tranquillo Barnetta’s shot crashed against the post.

In the 13th minute Klose thought he had given Bayern the lead when his shot from 18 metres hit the underside of the bar and came down behind the line, but the referee’s assistance failed to signal a goal.

But Rensing was soon in action again, brilliantly turning aside a close-range effort from Kießling for a corner, then denying Simon Rolfes. In the 25th minute his alertness saved the visitors as the young goalkeeper came swiftly off his line to take the ball off the toe of Leverkusen’s Greek striker Theofanis Gekas. Six minutes later it was Arturo Vidal who escaped the attentions of the Bayern defenders, only for Rensing to get to the ball first.

Klose sets it up for Toni

After a first half in which either side could have scored two or three times, it was Bayern that eventually took the lead five minutes before half-time, thanks to a deft combination between the in-form striking duo as Klose took a pass from Franck Ribéry, beat his man and rolled the ball across the face of the goal for Toni to slide the ball home.

The visitors had a setback just four minutes into the second half when Klose was left on the turf after a clash with Kießling. Treatment to his injured right knee by the side of the pitch failed to resolve the problem and Fabian Schweinsteiger came on in his place.

The midfielder was immediately at the centre of the action as Bayern launched a counter-attack after clearing a corner. Hamit Altintop delivered a through ball that was too deep for Toni, and although Schweinsteiger recovered the ball, he took too long and the chance was gone.

Desperate efforts to equalise

The home side were lacking the cutting edge they had demonstrated in the first half, and the chances started to fall to Bayern, with Toni first failing to get his shot in properly from Altintop’s pass, then just failing to get a header on goal from Zé Roberto’s cross.

Leverkusen brought on Michal Papadopoulos for Gekas and Sascha Dum for Vidal in a bid to get back on level terms. The home side forced a succession of corners as Bayern found it hard to get out of their own half, but their increasingly desperate efforts started to leave gaps at the back.

Ribéry shot narrowly wide from 20 metres in the 84th minute, then Jansen shot weakly after being played through by the French midfielder. And two minutes from the end of regulation time, Altintop drove a shot into the side netting.

Despite four minutes added for injury and stoppage time, during which Leverkusen’s Friedrich and Gonzo Castro both received yellow cards, Bayern held on to record an important victory that consolidates their position at the top of the table thanks to Toni’s sixth goal of the season.