Created on 22-03-2008 at 00:00 AM
Luca Toni netted twice as Bayern saw off third-placed Bayer far more easily than the scoreline suggests, stretching their lead at the top of the Bundesliga to seven points over Hamburg.
The 69,000 full house at the Allianz Arena erupted on 17 minutes to acclaim Toni's ninth opening goal of the league campaign, but the leaders were careless with a string of chances after that and were grateful to captain Olli Kahn for preserving the half-time lead with a blinding save from Sergej Barbarez.
If Bayern enjoyed the better of the first period they utterly dominated the second, Toni completing his brace on the hour to put the men in red firmly on the way to victory. Only Bayer keeper Rene Adler stood between Munich and a cricket score for long spells after that, but Leverkusen sub Dmitriy Bulykin pulled one back out of the blue with seven minutes remaining, although the outcome was never really in doubt as the home side shut up shop to seal a fully merited win.
Luca and Philipp restored
Ottmar Hitzfeld relaxed his exhaustive rotation policy of recent weeks, making just two changes to the side which beat Wolfsburg in the Cup on Wednesday. Philipp Lahm replaced the suspended Christian Lell, with Toni back in the side for Lukas Podolski.
Bayer boss Michael Skibbe caused a raised eyebrow or two with a much more attacking formation than expected, fielding veteran Bernd Schneider in a midfield playmaking role behind four nominal forwards in the shape of Stefan Kießling, Barbarez, Tranquilo Barnetta and Theofanis Gekas.
Luca, yet again
Toni had the ball in the net after just five minutes only to be ruled offside, and the highly-rated Adler tipped Ze Roberto's deflected shot over the bar, but Lucio was forced into a crucial intervention at the other end after Barnetta's backheel sent Kießling scampering clear.
But Bayern clearly held the upper hand and were rewarded after 17 minutes when Franck Ribery released Miro Klose on the edge of the six-yard box, the Germany striker unselfishly squaring for Toni to burst between two defenders and slot home from close range.
Heroics from Kahn
Leverkusen full-back Hans Sarpei made a desperate late clearance when Ze elected to cross from Klose's sublime defensive-splitting pass, but there was a let-off for the home side on the half-hour when Barbarez diverted Schneider's drive goalwards, only for Kahn to hack the ball clear with his left foot despite going the wrong way in anticipation of the original shot.
After a brief lull, the Bavarians mounted another onslaught as the half drew to a close, but Klose declined three highly presentable openings, first directing a header wide, then falling victim to a Sarpei block, and finally seeing Adler pull out a stunning reaction stop to keep out a firm downward header from Hamit Altintop's cross.
Luca completes brace
Klose was out of luck again from the first chance after the restart, nodding over from close range after Demichelis' header back across goal, but Toni made no mistake with the next opportunity, rising above the statuesque Bayer defence and planting a firm header past Adler from Lahm's energetic dash into the box and cross to the far post.
The Italian blasted over with only Adler to beat and the keeper made yet another great stop to deny Demichelis as Bayern threatened to overrun the despondent visitors, but Adler's resistance continued with a brave double block from late sub Podolski.
Reds ease to finish
Bayer appeared to have thrown in the towel, but Bulykin's late strike from fellow sub Paul Freier's neat lay-off set up a far more nervous finish than the course of the match ever deserved. In truth, any result other than a home win would have been a minor travesty, but the men in red held out comfortably enough to take another giant stride towards a 21st domestic league crown.
Live match report for fcbayern.de by Chris Hamley