- Associated Press - Saturday, December 19, 2020

LEVERKUSEN, Germany (AP) - Borussia Mönchengladbach striker Marcus Thuram spat in an opponent’s face and overshadowed Robert Lewandowski winning a top-of-the-table Bundesliga clash for Bayern Munich against Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.

Thuram faces a lengthy ban after spitting on Hoffenheim defender Stefan Posch after an argument between the pair over a tackle in a game which Hoffenheim won 2-1.

Thuram went to ground following a challenge from Posch. Thuram then spat from close range at Posch, who reeled back in shock, wiping his face. Thuram walked away with Posch in pursuit as the game continued before the referee eventually intervened. Thuram was issued a red card and Posch a yellow.

Thuram’s ban could be longer than the five games served by Schalke defender Ozan Kabak after he spat in an opponent’s direction in September but missed.


A last-minute goal by Robert Lewandowski returned Bayern Munich to the top spot after beating Bayer Leverkusen 2-1.

Two days after being crowned as FIFA’s best male player, Lewandowski made the difference against Leverkusen with one goal to level the score and the winner in the final seconds of added time.

Neither goal was highlight-reel material - opposition blunders played essential roles - but it was enough to overhaul Leverkusen, which had gone unbeaten as it emerged as the surprise league leader.

The win was testament to Bayern’s ability to play its way out of trouble. It was the seventh Bundesliga game in a row in which the German champion has come back to earn points after conceding the opening goal. Bayern went two points clear of Leverkusen and Leipzig.

Leverkusen took the lead with a moment of genius, and gave it away with a moment of confusion.

Patrik Schick opened the scoring in style, floating at the edge of the box at a corner and then meeting Nadiem Amiri’s cross with an unstoppable volley into the top corner.

Leverkusen gave Bayern a helping hand just before halftime when goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky collided with defender Jonathan Tah. They watched Thomas Müller’s cross float to the unmarked Lewandowski to head into an empty net.

Bayern dominated the second half. In added time, Tah lost the ball, leaving space for Lewandowski to hit a shot which deflected off Edmond Tapsoba and over the diving Hradecky.

Coach Hansi Flick praised his team’s grit in beating Leverkusen, one of only three clubs to defeat Bayern since Flick took charge 13 months ago. Losing at the last minute was “undeserved, disappointing,” in Leverkusen coach Peter Bosz’s verdict.


Thuram put himself on course for a long ban and his team on course for defeat.

Referee Frank Willenborg received a signal to consult video and showed the French player the red card. The score was 1-1, and 10-man Gladbach went on to concede another goal and lose.

“It’s a shame for the team and a shame for him,” Gladbach teammate Valentino Lazaro said. “It doesn’t fit with his character at all.”

Midfielder Christoph Kramer showed less understanding for Thuram.

“His fuses blew. That should of course never happen to him. You can’t excuse it,” Kramer said.

Gladbach coach Marco Rose apologized “on behalf of the whole club” and added, “It simply doesn’t belong on a football pitch. It goes way beyond the limits.”

Posch was booked for his part in the altercation and subsequently substituted for Kevin Akpoguma, who set up on-loan Tottenham left back Ryan Sessegnon for Hoffenheim’s winner from close range in the 86th.


Even a change of coach did little to help Schalke snap its long run without a win. Fabian Klos scored early in the second half for relegation rival Arminia Bielefeld to beat interim coach Huub Stevens’ team 1-0.

Stevens replaced the fired Manuel Baum on Friday for the game against Bielefeld and cup game against Ulm on Tuesday before Schalke finds a permanent replacement for the new year. Its winless run in the Bundesliga is at 29 games and closing in on Tasmania Berlin’s league record of 31 straight games without a victory from the 1965-66 season.

Leipzig dropped back in the title race after drawing with Cologne 0-0.

Eren Dinkci scored in the last minute for Werder Bremen to win at Mainz 1-0, and Eintracht Frankfurt won at Augsburg 2-0.


Fahey reported from Berlin.


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