Key talking points as Leverkusen move five points clear of Bayern
A stellar display from Xabi Alonso's Bayer Leverkusen against Bayern Munich saw them move five points clear at the top of the Bundesliga.
We round up the key talking points from a 3-0 victory at the BayArena which could go a long way to deciding the destination of this season's German top-flight crown.
Oh the irony
Leverkusen were rewarded for a magnificent start on home soil with the opening goal — one ironically scored by a player on loan from Bayern.
Right-wing back Josip Stanisic, 23, snuck in behind Sacha Boey to convert Robert Andrich's well-directed cross in the 18th minute.
Croatia international Stanisic refused to celebrate against his parent club, although the majority of supporters inside the BayArena went wild after the ball flew past a helpless Manuel Neuer.
The strike was the young defender's first in Leverkusen colours — and only his second in the Bundesliga overall.
Quick out the blocks
After a dominant first-half display, Alonso's men came out firing in the second and went 2-0 up in the 49th minute.
Free-scoring full-back Alejandro Grimaldo was the man to capitalise on some more lacklustre Bayern defending, the Spaniard partaking in a give-and-go with Nathan Tella and then firing the ball into the roof of Neuer's net.
Grimaldo, 28, was signed on a free from Benfica in the summer and now boasts eight goals and nine assists in the Bundesliga this term — a quite incredible return for a defender.
Fellow full-back Jeremie Frimpong also increased his goal contribution tally to 12 with a sensational stoppage-time effort off the bench, which was the icing on the cake for Leverkusen.
Alonso has earned himself a reputation as a master tactician and he only enhanced that status against Bayern.
The Spanish coach's decision to deploy Amine Adli in the centre forward role, rather than the more physical presence of Patrik Schick, paid dividends as the Moroccan's movement often left the likes of Eric Dier and Dayot Upamecano dumbfounded.
Alonso's call to have Grimaldo invert from left-back and Piero Hincapie provide the width from centre-back also helped Leverkusen bamboozle their opposition.
And, of course, the importance of Granit Xhaka to his manager's setup was made evident on the biggest of stages, the ex-Arsenal star orchestrating the game with slick passing and positional intelligence.
A Harry-ble night for Kane
Harry Kane has been the standout performer in the Bundesliga during his debut campaign but even he could not drag Bayern back into the match.
Marshalled expertly by Alonso's well-drilled defence and midfield, the England captain often dropped far too deep in response to feeding off scraps.
Kane failed to register a shot on target or create a single chance, all while having just 18 touches of the ball.
The fact Leroy Sane and Jamal Musiala — two of the finest creators in world football — also had off nights did not help Kane's cause and it is a match he will be eager to forget in a hurry.
The run goes on
As well as being five points clear and on course for a first-ever Bundesliga title, Leverkusen's unbeaten run this season now stands at 31 games across all competitions.
Alonso's side have not tasted defeat in 21 league fixtures, claiming 17 victories and boasting a goal difference of plus 41.
The longest unbeaten run by a German side in all competitions is 32 games, achieved by Bayern from December 2019 to September 2020.
So if Leverkusen avoid defeat against Heidenheim and Mainz this month, a record will be broken — and the rumours linking Alonso with the Liverpool job will only further intensify.