Bayer Leverkusen wrapped up their first ever Bundesliga title on Sunday night as Xabi Alonso’s managerial reputation continues to grow.

Leverkusen are unbeaten in all competitions this season and here, the PA news agency looks at their record.

Invincibles

Alonso’s side lead Bayern Munich by 16 points with five games remaining after 25 wins and four draws in the Bundesliga this season.

Wins or draws against all of Borussia Dortmund, Stuttgart, Eintracht Frankfurt, Bochum and Augsburg would see them complete the first ever undefeated Bundesliga season – Bayern lost just one game in both the 1986-87 and 2012-13 seasons, a record in the competition.

Leverkusen are also in the DFB-Pokal final, against second-tier Kaiserslautern, and hold a 2-0 lead from the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final against West Ham.

They have not lost in those competitions either, with an overall season record of 38 wins and five draws, 123 goals scored and only 31 conceded.

Sunday’s title-clinching 5-0 win over Werder Bremen was the fifth time this season they have scored five goals – Darmstadt, third-tier Sandhausen and European opponents Qarabag and Molde the other victims – in addition to an 8-0 cup rout of fourth-tier Teutonia Ottensen.

Florian Wirtz’s hat-trick against Bremen moved him alongside Victor Boniface as the club’s leading scorer, both with 11 league goals and 17 in all competitions. Leverkusen have kept 21 clean sheets at the other end.

Arsenal’s 2003-04 team earned the title of “The Invincibles” after winning the Premier League without losing a match – Alonso’s men need to get through a further nine or 10 games to complete an “Unbesiegbar” season across all competitions.

Xabi’s X-factor

Taking over a team second-bottom of the table in October of last season, Alonso worked wonders to lead Leverkusen to a sixth-placed finish and a Europa League semi-final before breaking new ground this season.

Across his 80 games in charge to date, Alonso has 55 wins – a remarkable 68.8 per cent rate – with 15 draws and 10 defeats. His side have scored 187 goals, averaging 2.34 per match, and conceding 77 or just under a goal per game.

Alonso was linked with Tottenham last summer and with the upcoming vacancies at Liverpool and deposed Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich – both clubs he represented as a player – at the end of this season.

He has pledged his continued loyalty to Leverkusen, who will be hoping that remains the case as his stock rises.

Xabi Alonso said it was an honour to manage Bayer Leverkusen to their first Bundesliga title after the runaway leaders clinched the trophy in style with a 5-0 victory over Werder Bremen.

Leverkusen were crowned German champions for the first time in their 120-year history with a dominant win which saw Florian Wirtz net a second-half hat-trick at an ecstatic BayArena.

Victor Boniface had opened the scoring from the penalty spot before Granit Xhaka doubled the lead with a long-range effort.

Alonso, who committed his future to Leverkusen after being linked with former clubs Liverpool and Bayern Munich earlier this season, lauded the “special” achievement after winning his first major trophy in management.

“This success is special for everyone, for the entire club. It belongs to so many people,” the 42-year-old Spaniard said after the match, as reported by Kicker.

“We have to enjoy winning this for the entire club. The first championship in 120 years. It’s an honour to be part of it and working here. Today we deserve to celebrate, with family, friends and fans.”

Leverkusen remain unbeaten during a fairy-tale campaign which could yet yield even more silverware.

They hold a 2-0 first-leg lead over West Ham in the Europa League quarter-finals – the second leg takes place in London on Thursday – and also have a DFB Pokal final against Kaiserslautern to look forward to next month.

“It may not be the last party of the current season,” Alonso added.

“We still have a big goal in the Europa League. We have a good chance to be in the semi-finals and also in the cup, the feeling is incredible.”

Boniface opened the scoring against Werder with a 25th-minute penalty before former Arsenal captain Xhaka made it 2-0 on the hour.

Wirtz then took centre stage, adding a third in the 68th minute to all but end any doubts about the result or title, before the 20-year-old completed his hat-trick with two more goals in the closing stages.

Wirtz said: “It’s indescribable. I can’t even realise it yet. I need to be in the dressing room for a while to get my head around what we’ve achieved.”

Fellow Germany international Jonas Hofmann, who joined Leverkusen last summer from Borussia Monchengladbach, added: “Everything really flows through the body. You don’t know: should you laugh? Should you cry? It’s really indescribable, I wouldn’t have dreamed of this a year ago, in the first year to do it straight away. That’s just awesome.

“We constantly pushed ourselves to the limit every game, no matter who was playing. We were always there, always present.

“This season you can see that everyone is needed so that the level doesn’t (drop) off. Then you’ll be able to play like that in three competitions. The coach is setting a brutal example of that.”

Leverkusen’s success ends Bayern’s 11-year reign as German champions, with Borussia Dortmund back in 2012 the last team to deny them top spot.

Bayern, who are currently a massive 16 points behind Leverkusen after a largely disappointing season for Thomas Tuchel’s side, were quick to applaud the new title winners.

“Congratulations to Bayer Leverkusen on a historic first Bundesliga title in the club’s history,” Bayern president Herbert Hainer said.

“The title goes absolutely deservedly to Leverkusen – it’s the reward for an outstanding season and great football.

Bayern chief executive Jan-Christian Dreesen added: “They’ve had a flawless season so far, the team have demonstrated courage, class and above all consistency, and that’s why they deserve to be 2024 German champions.”

Bayer Leverkusen sealed a maiden Bundesliga title in style as Florian Wirtz’s hat-trick wrapped up a comfortable 5-0 win over Werder Bremen.

Against a backdrop of expectation and cauldron of noise at the BayArena, Xabi Alonso’s side extended their unbeaten streak this season to 43 matches to end Bayern Munich’s run of 11 successive league titles.

Victor Boniface eased any nerves in the stadium with a 25th-minute penalty after Julian Malatin fouled Jonas Hofmann in the box, with referee Harm Osmers awarding the spot-kick following a VAR consultation.

Wave after wave of attack followed but Leverkusen were thwarted until Granit Xhaka curled home a left-foot strike from 25 yards on the hour to effectively end any hope of Bremen spoiling the party.

Wirtz, introduced on the stroke of half-time, then rifled high into the net from a similar distance midway through the second half and a brief pitch invasion followed when he bagged his second in the 83rd minute after going clean through on goal.

He had his treble with a fine finish, the last kick of the match which sparked another pitch invasion as Leverkusen got the victory they needed to guarantee the title with five matches left in the season.

Xabi Alonso wants Bayer Leverkusen to grasp their “first chance” to claim a maiden Bundesliga title but insisted he is not attaching any extra significance to the visit of Werder Bremen.

Victory for Leverkusen on Sunday would guarantee the club’s first top-flight title in their 120-year history although they would be crowned champions if Bayern Munich and Stuttgart both lose on Saturday.

With five rounds of fixtures to go after this weekend, Leverkusen have plenty of opportunities to make club history in a season where they have stitched together a 42-match unbeaten run in all competitions.

But while Alonso is keeping the same mantra he has had throughout the campaign, the Spaniard would take some comfort in Leverkusen sealing the crown at the first attempt.

“Obviously there’s this special aspect to the game on Sunday,” Alonso told a press conference.

“We have the chance to be champions. But we’re only focusing on the game itself and want to play with our usual quality and mentality. We don’t want to think too much about eventualities.

“We’ll prepare normally for the game. Luckily, it’s not the only chance we have to be champions. But we’re playing at home and want to take our first chance.

“We’ll approach the game with full respect, because nothing is a given. Our heads are now on Bremen. We’re in a good situation and are focusing fully on Sunday.”

A 25th victory in 29 league games in this campaign will likely lead to an outpouring of celebration from fans at the BayArena and a possible pitch invasion.

“The most important thing is that the fans can celebrate properly,” Alonso said when asked about the prospect.

“They deserve that. But we still have a few games left to play on this pitch. We need the pitch still.”

Bayern Munich manager Thomas Tuchel said he will avoid Bayer Leverkusen securing the Bundesliga title on Sunday by watching Arsenal’s Premier League match against Aston Villa instead.

Xabi Alonso’s Leverkusen are on the brink of being crowned champions and host Werder Bremen on Sunday.

Even if Bayern beat Cologne at the Allianz Arena a day earlier, Leverkusen – 16 points clear with just six matches remaining – will take their first title by seeing off Bremen.

However, Tuchel, whose side host Cologne fresh from a pulsating 2-2 Champions League draw at Arsenal on Tuesday night, will have his attention elsewhere.

“I won’t be watching the Leverkusen game on Sunday,” he said. “I’ll watch Arsenal.”

The Champions League is the only trophy still up for grabs for the German giants following a disappointing domestic campaign.

And ahead of the quarter-final return leg in Munich on Wednesday, Tuchel has hinted he will rotate his side for the visit of Cologne.

“We’ve got several days between Cologne and Arsenal, but there’s the consideration to throw in some other players and make some changes,” said the former Chelsea manager, who is leaving Munich at the end of the season.

“If we make changes, then it’s more to give players some match rhythm for Wednesday and not to rest anybody.”

Leroy Sane is among those unlikely to feature on Saturday.

The former Manchester City winger impressed for Bayern at the Emirates on Tuesday night before he was substituted in the second half.

“It’s about how much pain he can tolerate,” added Tuchel of Sane.

“We geared everything towards him being able to play for Arsenal. He was an important factor there and played a great game.

“Since he showed a reaction, we’re focusing on him on Wednesday. The plan is for him to return on Sunday or Monday. But if he plays, he’ll show a reaction in his pubic bone again, which will remain the case for the time being.

“It’s clear what assets and talent the boy has. But we’ve been waiting for him to score a competitive goal since October. He got off to an outstanding start to the season, but he’s slowed down a bit.

“The expectations before the Arsenal first leg were huge and he delivered. We expect him to keep pushing himself, then he’ll be a key player for us.”

Tuchel will watch Saturday’s match from the stands after he was shown a fourth yellow card of the season in last weekend’s shock defeat to Heidenheim.

Cologne are four points from safety and Bayern are unbeaten in their last 19 meetings against their opponents on Saturday.

David Moyes insists West Ham still have “half a chance” to reach the Europa League semi-finals despite an agonising 2-0 first-leg defeat at Bayer Leverkusen.

The Hammers defended heroically for 83 minutes of a one-sided encounter against the Bundesliga leaders in Germany.

But late goals from substitutes Jonas Hoffman and Victor Boniface left West Ham with it all to do in next week’s second leg against a team yet to lose a match this season.

Moyes told TNT Sports: “Leverkusen have a good record of scoring late. We were aware of that. We did a great job but we played against a Champions League side and we’re not quite at that level.

“We’re still in the tie and we have half a chance in the second leg.

“We’d like to have played more attacking. The players did a brilliant job with the structure. We got done by two corner kicks. The second one was really poor from our point of view.

“It’s going to take some performance because they’re a really good team. You never know what’s going to happen. Let’s try to get one and then see if we can get two. We’ll pick ourselves up for next week and hopefully get the crowd behind us.

“This team we’re playing will be Champions League next year. We have to recognise what we’re playing against. We’ll have to do exceptionally well to get that result.”

Goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianksi made a string of excellent saves to keep the hosts at bay.

The former Poland international, who turns 39 next Thursday, added: “We are very disappointed.

“We worked hard for 80 minutes and then we gave two goals away from set-pieces. Usually defending set-pieces is our strength but you have to give a lot of credit to the opposition because they pushed the whole game.

“The more disappointing thing is that we conceded the second goal. It gives them a bit more confidence. We won’t give up. We have to believe and respond in the second leg.

“I wouldn’t say we ran out of energy. Both teams did their best. In the end the second set-piece felt too easy. It felt like the striker had too much space.

“We have a really good record at home. They’re special magical nights and hopefully the second leg will be the same.”

To make matters worse, West Ham will be without Lucas Paqueta through suspension for the return leg.

Leverkusen’s former Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka said: “We knew before the game West Ham would be deep, but we showed one more time we have the quality to beat these teams.

“The second goal helps a lot for the second leg and we’ll have to be focused from the beginning.”

Liverpool endured a humbling night after Atalanta left Anfield with a 3-0 victory that places the Serie A side on the brink of qualifying for the Europa League semi-finals.

Former West Ham striker Gianluca Scamacca struck in each half, the second goal made possible by a superb pass from Charles De Ketelaere, before Mario Pasalic added the third in the 84th minute.

Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League title challengers were completely outplayed by opponents positioned sixth in their domestic league and as a result have a mountain to climb in the second leg of their last eight tie.

West Ham were breached by two late goals as they slipped to a 2-0 defeat in their first leg at Bayer Leverkusen.

The Hammers had defended heroically for 83 minutes before goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski was finally beaten by substitute Jonas Hoffman.

The second arrived in stoppage time when a second sub, Victor Boniface, headed home Hofmann’s cross to leave West Ham’s hopes of a third consecutive European semi-final looking slim.

Benfica took a step towards the reaching the last four after dispatching Marseille 2-1 in Lisbon through goals by Rafa Silva and Angel Di Maria.

The Portuguese champions were on target either side of the interval with David Neres involved in both strikes before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted what could be an important away goal with 23 minutes remaining.

Gianluca Mancini’s early goal was all that separated AC Milan and Roma in their all-Serie A tie at the San Siro.

Milan controlled most of the game but did not recover from Mancini’s effort with Olivier Giroud directing a short-range target on to the crossbar in the closing moments.

Aston Villa clawed a slender advantage from their Europa Conference League quarter-final against Lille after emerging with a 2-1 first-leg win at Villa Park.

Goals in either half from Ollie Watkins and John McGinn saw Villa lead their first European last-eight tie since 1998 and give boss Unai Emery victory in his 1,000th match as a manager.

Bafode Diakite’s late header gave the French side a lifeline just as it looked like they would head home frustrated by Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, who had made a string of big saves.

West Ham were breached by two late goals as they slipped to a 2-0 defeat in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final at Bayer Leverkusen.

The Hammers had defended heroically for 83 minutes before goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski was finally beaten by substitute Jonas Hoffman.

A one-goal deficit might have given David Moyes’ side hope going into next week’s second leg at the London Stadium, despite facing a side unbeaten all season.

But disaster struck in stoppage time when a second substitute, Victor Boniface, headed home Hofmann’s cross, to leave West Ham’s hopes of a third consecutive European semi-final looking horribly slim.

A yellow card for Lucas Paqueta, ruling the Brazil international out of the second leg, only adds to the task facing the east Londoners.

The Hammers, without injured top scorer Jarrod Bowen and defensive midfield linchpin Edson Alvarez through suspension, were almost undone in the seventh minute when Josip Stanisic’s wayward shot was flicked towards goal by Patrik Schick but the ball went straight to Fabianski.

But Leverkusen were given a warning of West Ham’s prowess on the counter-attack moments later when Michail Antonio outstripped Jonathan Tah on the left wing and produced the best chance of the first half.

The burly frontman squared the ball to Mohammed Kudus, but the Ghana winger’s first-time strike was comfortably held by Matej Kovar.

However, West Ham were largely camped in their own penalty area and Fabianski palmed away Jeremie Frimpong’s curler before Exequiel Palacios’s drive was deflected over.

Paqueta’s over-enthusiastic challenge on Amine Adli earned him his booking – the Brazilian survived a red card check – and provoked a mild skirmish on the touchline.

Fabianski might have suspected he was in for a busy evening and he was proved right, making big saves to keep out dangerous efforts from Alejandro Grimaldo, Shick and Edmond Tapsoba.

Early in the second half Emerson Palmieri was shown a yellow card after catching Adli on the ankle, meaning the left-back will also sit out next week’s return leg.

Frimpong, a former Manchester City youngster, hit a low angled drive straight at Fabianski, before the 38-year-old Pole made a stunning save to tip Shick’s instinctive header over the crossbar.

But with seven minutes remaining Fabianski was powerless to prevent Hoffman’s shot bouncing through a sea of white shirts and into the net after a corner was only half-cleared.

Tomas Soucek cleared two Tah efforts off the line in a desperate finale before Boniface headed the second to leave the Hammers devastated.

Florian Wirtz should follow Xabi Alonso's lead and reject interest from Europe's top clubs to stay at Bayer Leverkusen beyond this season, says former Germany international Carsten Ramelow.

Wirtz has been one of the standout performers in a remarkable campaign for Leverkusen, who are just one win away from clinching their first Bundesliga title.

The attacking midfielder has 18 goal involvements in 28 league outings this term (eight goals, 10 assists), with his latest goal coming from the penalty spot in Saturday's win over Union Berlin.  

Among all Bundesliga players, Wirtz ranks third for successful dribbles (77), fifth for chances created (70) and fourth for expected assists (9.23 xA) this season.

His performances have won him plenty of admirers, with Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Real Madrid among those credited with an interest in the 20-year-old.

However, after seeing head coach Alonso reaffirm his commitment to Leverkusen, Ramelow, who made over 400 appearances for Die Werkself between 1995 and 2008, thinks Wirtz should follow suit. 

"For Leverkusen, he is indispensable," the 2002 World Cup finalist told Stats Perform. "The same goes for the national team, where he has found a good role. 

"There's a lot of speculation. When you're in great form, the big teams come knocking. Leverkusen hope he will continue with them for a while and move on after that. 

"In my opinion, it would be good for his development to stay in Leverkusen, because you can see if young players leave too early, it is not always good."

With Alonso refusing to jump ship, Ramelow feels Leverkusen still have plenty to offer Wirtz, saying: "To show consistent performances, you have to be where you feel happy, and I think Leverkusen is a good place currently. 

"They are so consistent. They have a lot of confidence and also a pinch of luck in the final moments to win games. That's really good. You have to look at the collective, the coach and his staff.

"But of course, Wirtz is a very young player who showed his talent many times over the last few years. He has made really good development and has lots more to come.

"Why not continue on that path for another one, two, maybe even three years and make the next step afterwards? This is what I think is the right way, but we will see what decision Wirtz takes."

Remarkably, Leverkusen are yet to lose a game in any competition this season. They have just six further games to navigate in the Bundesliga, while they will face second tier Kaiserslautern in May's DFB-Pokal final and are among the favourites to win the Europa League.

 As Leverkusen look to banish the ghosts of 2001-02 – when they finished as runners up in the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League – Ramelow says all the credit lies with Alonso.

"When he arrived in Leverkusen, he was facing a few problems, which is normal. I think you have to give managers some time in this day and age," Ramelow said.

"That is what they did with him. He explained his philosophy and ideas very well to the team. The boys execute that really well. 

"The whole package is in perfect harmony. The season they have played is phenomenal. Their streak is sensational and it looks like they will do this until the end. 

"Every team has a bit of a lapse every season, but Leverkusen have been exceptional across all competitions. They can still win everything. Things are looking really good."

Xabi Alonso insists Bayer Levekusen’s focus is solely on West Ham on Thursday night despite a potentially historic weekend on the horizon.

Leverkusen, unbeaten in all 41 of their matches this season, look set to wrap up a first Bundesliga title on Saturday or Sunday.

All they need to do is match Bayern Munich’s result to be confirmed as champions.

Should Bayern lose to Cologne then Leverkusen will be crowned as title winners without having to kick a ball.

Either way, Alonso’s side will claim the title if they beat Werder Bremen at home on Sunday afternoon.

But Leverkusen are still in the hunt for a treble – they are already in the German Cup final – and first up is the Europa League quarter-final first leg against the Hammers.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Alonso said: “We know what West Ham can do. They have experience in Europe, last season they were champions of the Conference League.

“We want to go further and starting tomorrow and then next week in London, we have to play to our own game. We are ready.”

Former Liverpool midfielder Alonso was reportedly among the contenders to replace Jurgen Klopp as Anfield boss.

But the 42-year-old Spaniard has opted to stay at the BayArena, a decision which has thrilled the players according to defender Jeremie Frimpong.

“Everyone has a good feeling,” he said. “We love the coach and we are happy, you see it on the pitch. We simply have this great connection.”

Leverkusen reached the semi-finals of the same competition last season, but were edged out 1-0 on aggregate by Roma.

“When we lost last season in the Europa League semi-final it was difficult, but this season is different, we don’t like losing,” added Frimpong.

“It’s the quarter-finals so we are obviously excited for tomorrow. It’s what football is about, playing against the top teams so we are looking forward to it.”

West Ham have a major doubt over top scorer Jarrod Bowen for the match in Germany, but Leverkusen have also been dealt an injury blow in attack.

They will have to manage without striker Adam Hlozek, who injured his left ankle in the first half of Saturday’s 1-0 win away to Union Berlin.

Bayer Leverkusen stayed on course for a German league and cup double by thumping Fortuna Dusseldorf 4-0 to reach the DFB-Pokal final.

Jeremie Frimpong, Amine Adli and Florian Wirtz scored first-half goals as runaway Bundesliga leaders Leverkusen made light work of second-tier opponents at the BayArena.

Wirtz added a fourth from the penalty spot as Xabi Alonso’s side – who are also in the quarter-finals of the Europa League – made it 40 games unbeaten in all competitions this season.

Dusseldorf’s away form in Bundesliga – seven wins and four draws from 14 games – had given them semi-final hope, but this was a much tougher challenge than they were accustomed to.

The size of their task was laid bare within four minutes when Emmanuel Iyoha’s last-ditch tackle prevented Frimpong from opening the scoring.

Marlon Mustapha instantly managed a weak shot at the other end, but the unmarked Frimpong rifled Leverkusen ahead after seven minutes with a ferocious shot into the roof of the net.

Leverkusen doubled their lead after 20 minutes from a lightning counter-attack launched from deep inside their own penalty area.

Wirtz released Adli and his unerring low finish into the corner of the net gave goalkeeper Florian Kastenmeier no chance.

There was a massive chasm between the sides and Leverkusen rammed home their superiority after 35 minutes.

Dusseldorf were caught out playing from the back and Adli repaid the compliment as Wirtz finished in style.

Wirtz saw another effort tipped over by Kastenmeier before Andre Hoffmann and Christos Tzolis threatened for Dusseldorf.

But Matej Kovar stood firm in the home goal and Leverkusen added a fourth on the hour mark.

Patrik Schick’s header was going wide, but the ball clipped the hand of Matthias Zimmermann to be diverted on to the post.

It was definitely not an intentional intervention from Zimmerman, but the referee was sent to the monitor for a VAR review and a penalty awarded.

Wirtz, fresh from scoring after six seconds for Germany against France, sent his devastating spot-kick in to the corner.

Dusseldorf wanted their own penalty after 74 minutes when Tzolis tangled with Frimpong in the box.

On first glance it looked as if Tzolis had got there first, but on closer examination Frimpong’s challenge was shown to be legitimate.

Leverkusen welcomed back Victor Boniface for the final 15 minutes, the 16-goal Nigeria striker having not played since December 20 because of a muscle injury.

Substitute Nathan Tella was denied a late fifth, but the party had already started with flares lighting up the BayArena.

Leverkusen – 13 points clear of Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga – will play second-tier Kaiserslautern in the DFB-Pokal final in Berlin on May 25.

Thomas Tuchel admitted Bayern Munich are out of Bundesliga title contention after a 2-0 defeat in Der Klassiker left them 13 points adrift of league leaders Bayer Leverkusen.

Karim Adeyemi struck early on before Julian Ryerson sealed a 2-0 win for Borussia Dortmund, their first at the Allianz Arena since 2014, as Bayern’s bid for a 12th league title in a row was left hanging by the thinnest of threads.

For Tuchel, who will leave the Bavarian giants at the end of the season, the matter has already been settled. When asked if they were out of the running for the league crown, he told Sky: “Obviously, yes.

“After this game there is no more need to count points. How many is it now? Congratulations to Leverkusen.”

Xabi Alonso, Leverkusen’s head coach, this week rebuffed speculation linking him with former clubs Bayern or Liverpool as the Spaniard publicly committed his future to his current employers.

They looked set for a first defeat in 39 matches in all competitions after going behind at home to Hoffenheim as Maximilian Beier gave the visitors a 33rd-minute lead they held until the closing stages.

Robert Andrich equalised with two minutes left, lashing home a bobbling effort, and Leverkusen sealed a 2-1 win in added-on time, as Patrik Schick reacted fastest to volley home Nathan Tella’s cross before their hopes of a maiden league title were given a further shot in the arm by Bayern’s setback.

Raphinha’s second-half goal helped Barcelona edge out 10-man Las Palmas 1-0 to close the gap on LaLiga leaders Real Madrid to five points.

Barcelona saw two goals chalked off for offside and Robert Lewandowski hit the bar but Las Palmas had goalkeeper Alvaro Valles red carded for a crude challenge on Raphinha outside his box after 25 minutes.

Xavi’s side were unable to initially capitalise on the extra man but Joao Felix came off the bench and provided a delicately-weighted ball over the top for Raphinha to head into the net in the 59th minute.

AC Milan extended their winning run to six matches with a 2-1 victory over Fiorentina in Serie A on an emotional night at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

There had been tributes before kick-off to Fiorentina general manager Joe Barone, who collapsed in the team hotel just as they were preparing to travel to the stadium for the match against Atalanta and later died in hospital.

The Rossoneri produced a clinical display with second-half goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Rafael Leao either side of Alfred Duncan’s equaliser to consolidate second place in the table.

Third-placed Juventus slipped six points behind Stefano Pioli’s team after losing 1-0 to Lazio, who sealed all three points thanks to Adam Marusic’s strike three minutes into stoppage time.

Lazio claimed both the three points and also struck a psychological blow ahead of Tuesday’s Coppa Italia semi-final first leg between the two teams in Turin.

Late goals from Robert Andrich and Patrik Schick helped Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen hit back from behind to beat Hoffenheim 2-1 and keep their unbeaten season intact.

Xabi Alonso’s men looked set to slip to their first defeat of the campaign after brilliant skill from Maximilian Beier gave the visitors the lead in the 33rd minute.

The hosts, boosted by the news this week that Alonso has decided to stay at the club, hunted for an equaliser with Hoffenheim keeper Oliver Baumann making a string of superb saves.

Borja Iglesias hit a post for Leverkusen after 87 minutes but they finally made their breakthrough moments later when Andrich lashed home a bobbling effort from the centre of the box.

The goal was good enough to extend their record unbeaten run to 39 games but Alonso’s side wanted more and they snatched the three points in the first minute of injury time.

The ball was played to the right flank where Nathan Tella delivered a cross behind the Hoffenheim defence and Schick reacted fastest to volley home from close range.

Bayer Leverkusen boss Xabi Alonso has committed his future to the Bundesliga leaders for another season to quash talk of a potential summer switch to Liverpool or Bayern Munich.

The 42-year-old former Reds midfielder has guided Leverkusen through an unbeaten season so far as they boast a 10-point advantage over reported suitors Bayern, with Liverpool also having been linked with the Spaniard in their search for outgoing manager Jurgen Klopp’s successor.

But speaking at his Friday press conference, Alonso said: “This is the right place for me to be. I will stay at Bayer.”

Reported Liverpool managerial target Xabi Alonso is unlikely to jump ship from Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen, according to Bayern Munich honorary president Uli Hoeness.

The 42-year-old, who lifted the Champions League trophy in 2005 during his debut season with the Reds, has been a widely touted as a likely replacement for Jurgen Klopp, who in January announced he will stand down at the end of the season after eight-and-a-half decorated years at Anfield.

Bayern are thought to be one of the other clubs courting the Spaniard’s services, but Hoeness was highly pessimistic about anyone’s chances of luring Alonso away from Leverkusen.

He told Das Erste: “We’ll have to see if we can do it this year.

“It will be difficult, if not probably impossible. (Alonso) is more inclined to stay at Bayer Leverkusen in view of their current successes, because he would not want to leave them behind.

“Let’s say if he had two or three more years of success, it would probably be easier to bring him out of there.”

Alonso’s men are on course to secure the first Bundesliga title in the club’s history, sitting 10 points clear of Bayern Munich in second.

In February, their 2-1 victory over Mainz to make it 33 games unbeaten broke the German record for consecutive competitive matches without a loss,  surpassing Hansi Flick’s Bayern Munich team of 2020 and 2021.

They have since extended that run to 38 fixtures, most recently with a 3-2 victory over Freiburg before the international break.

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