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Wirtz keeps Leverkusen unbeaten in Bundesliga

Leverkusen's Florian Wirtz Leverkusen's Florian Wirtz - The Canadian Press

BERLIN (AP) — Florian Wirtz scored to prevent Bayer Leverkusen falling to its first Bundesliga defeat of the season by securing a 1-1 draw at high-flying Stuttgart on Sunday.

Leverkusen stretched its lead over Bayern Munich to four points, though the 11-time defending champion has a game in hand after its game with Union Berlin was called off last weekend because of heavy snowfall.

The unexpected break did Bayern little good as it slumped to a 5-1 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday to leave Leverkusen the only unbeaten team remaining.

Leverkusen and Stuttgart started with the focus on attack but both missed good chances. The best came after 25 minutes when Leverkusen’s Victor Boniface shot straight at Stuttgart goalkeeper Alexander Nübel before Serhou Guirassy failed to beat Lukas Hradecky in a one-on-one at the other end.

Stuttgart’s Josha Vagnoman crossed for Chris Führich to finally break the deadlock in the 40th minute.

Stuttgart finished the first half with 18 shots at goal compared to eight from the visitors.

But Leverkusen emerged with more intent after the break and Boniface set up Wirtz for the equalizer in the 47th.

Xabi Alonso’s team remained more dominant, though failed to get the winner.

The Leverkusen coach acknowledged he had to be “a bit louder” for his half-time talk.

“The reaction was clear. The second half was completely different. We saw a different team,” Alonso said.

Stuttgart, which had won its previous four games across all competitions, remained third, now just one point behind Bayern.

Cologne drew with visiting Mainz 0-0 in the late game, leading to whistles from many of the Cologne fans.

Jan Thielmann struck the post late on for Cologne, which dropped into the relegation zone, still a point ahead of Mainz.


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