Football at its glorious best: FC Bayern won Saturday's mouth-watering top-of-the-table clash against RB Leipzig 5-4. Robert Lewandowski cancelled out Marcel Sabitzer's second-minute goal, but Timo Werner restored the home side's lead before the half-hour. Yussuf Poulsen netted shortly after the restart but Thiago pulled one back. Midway through the second half it seemed Werner had twisted the knife when he made it 4-2, but Bayern scored three goals in the closing stages of a contest that more than lived up to its billing. Lewandowski, David Alaba and Arjen Robben impressively turned the tide.
The champions started with Tom Starke between the sticks and Philipp Lahm, Jérôme Boateng, Alaba and Juan Bernat in a back four. Joshua Kimmich and Xabi Alonso anchored a midfield with Thiago in the playmaking role, flanked by Robben and Franck Ribéry, with Lewandowski as an orthodox centre-forward.
Carlo Ancelotti made four changes to the XI that saw off Darmstadt last weekend. Alonso, Lahm, Thiago and Robben took over from Renato Sanches, Rafinha, Douglas Costa and Thomas Müller. Ribéry had to be replaced after a foul shortly before the interval, Costa coming on for the Frenchman. Alonso gave way to Arturo Vidal on the hour before Müller replaced Kimmich.
Two spot-kicks, three goals
After match official Tobias Stieler whistled play underway the Bavarians experienced at first hand what has made Leipzig so dangerous this term. Barely a minute had been played when the hosts exploited a mix-up in the Bayern rearguard, Emil Forsberg finding Sabitzer at the back stick, inviting him to head home and draw first blood. At first it seemed the Munich men would not be able to stem the bleeding. The home side had another two golden opportunities within the first five minutes against the reeling champions, and it would have been 3-0 if it had not been for a fine Bernat save and a miscued Sabitzer finish.
Ancelotti's troops woke up now and slowly but surely clawed their way back into the contest, although Werner soon hit the post. After the quarter-hour Stieler awarded a debatable penalty for handball. Up stepped Lewandowski and proved a cool customer, levelling the scores. The 42,558 full house did not linger on the referee's decicion for long; too much was happening on the pitch in a marvellously entertaining contest.
Sabitzer drew a fine save from Starke before Forsberg curled the ball over the bar. Alonso upended Forsberg in the Bayern box, and Timo Werner netted the ensuing penalty to restore Leipzig's lead. A couple of half-chances came at either end, but Alaba's miscued effort meant more goals refused to come, and Bayern were trailing at the interval.
Reds turn the tide in the dying embers
The second half started as the first one had. Leipzig again sprang an early surprise, and an unlucky deflection by Alonso meant Starke's first intervention after the restart was to pick the ball from the back of his net. The Reds upped the ante and responded on the hour, when Alonso teed up Thiago for the Spaniard to head home. The home side soon went for the jugular, Werner nicking the ball off Lahm's toes and overcoming Starke from a tight angle, and the game seemed over.
Except that it's never over until it's over, and the champions once again demonstrated that in an impressive manner. The Bavarians seemed mortally offended by the idea of losing, desperately looking to turn the tide. Robben hit the bar with ten minutes to go, but Lewandowski was on hand to mop up and pull one back. The visitors' superior fitness began to tell now, and Alaba levelled the scores with a majestic free-kick in injury time. Bayern were still not done yet, and their relentless pressure paid off fully when Robben crowned a blistering solo run from Bayern's own half, chipping home five minutes into injury time.
The result takes champiopns Bayern onto 79 points from 33 matches. The Reds are back in action next Saturday when they entertain Freiburg in the last match of the season, and they will surely be buoyed by the morale-boosting, spectacular victory. After the match the FC Bayern family will turn to the serious business of celebrating the record-extending fifth championship title on the bounce.
Live match report for fcbayern.com by Greg Salmen
RB Leipzig - FC Bayern 4-5 (H-T: 2-1)
Gulacsi - Ilsanker, Upamecano, Compper, Bernardo - Keita, Demme - Sabitzer (Schmitz 69), Forsberg, Poulsen (Selke 76), Werner (Khedira 80)
Müller, Franke, Burke, Kaiser
Starke - Lahm, Boateng, Alaba, Bernat - Kimmich (Müller 67), Alonso (Vidal 61) - Robben, Thiago, Ribéry (Costa 44) - Lewandowski
Weinkauf, Rafinha, Coman, Sanches
Tobias Stieler (Hamburg)
1-0 Sabitzer (2), 1-1 Lewandowski (17, pen), 2-1 Werner (29, pen), 3-1 Poulsen (47), 3-2 Thiago (60), 4-2 Werner (65), 4-3 Lewandowski (84), 4-4 Alaba (90+1), 4-5 Robben (90+5)
Keita / Alonso, Vidal, Costa, Thiago, Boateng