Football Features

Stats and stories you might have missed as Bayer Leverkusen make history

By Harry Edwards

Published: 19:48, 18 May 2024

There was no Premier League action on Saturday with the final day to come, but that doesn’t mean the day wasn’t full of action.

We had the League One play-off final, the final day of the Bundesliga, the final day of the Primeira Liga and the final day of the English Women’s Super League.

So, what were the biggest stories of the day?


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Bayer Leverkusen go invincible

It was the story everyone was following. One of the stories of the season.

Bayer Leverkusen wrapped up their first-ever Bundesliga title a few weeks ago, breaking Bayern Munich’s stranglehold. But there was still work to be done.

Xabi Alonso’s men were chasing immortality. Never before had a side completed an entire Bundesliga season without losing. Even Bayern Munich’s Treble-winning team in 2012/13 lost in the league.

Leverkusen have flirted with losing so many times this season, even after the title was secured. But this side just don’t know how to lose.

On Saturday, a 2-1 win brought Leverkusen their 28th victory of the season, alongside six draws and immortality.

Bayern Munich’s worst season since 2011

Deposed champions, Bayern Munich now have the humiliation of finishing third in a two-horse race. That’s right, on the final day of the Bundesliga season, Bayern dropped down to third.

Bayern only needed a point on the final day to finish second in the Bundesliga, and they were in a great position, leading Hoffenheim 2-0 away from home after just six minutes. Mathys Tel was involved in both goals, scoring the opener and assisting Alphonso Davies for the second.

However, two minutes later it was 2-1 and eventually Hoffenheim came back to win 4-2. Andrej Kramaric assisted Hoffenheim’s first and then scored a hat-trick to complete the comeback, the first player to score three against Bayern since Dani Olmo in the DFL-Supercup at the start of the season.

At the same time, Stuttgart beat Borussia Monchengladbach 4-0 to move up to second, leaving Bayern outside the top two for the first time since 2010/11.


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Reus goes out with a bang

Borussia Dortmund missed out on a top-four finish in the Bundesliga, but they did end their campaign with a 4-0 win over Darmstadt.

However, this day was all about Marco Reus. The German midfielder was playing his final game at Signal Iduna Park for Dortmund, after it was announced that he will leave the club at the end of the season. He does still have the Champions League final to come, but this was a moment for him to cherish.

And, after a season lacking game time, Reus showed he can still go. Captaining the side from the off, Reus inspired Dortmund to a 2-0 first-half lead. First, he set up Ian Maatsen and then Reus got his goal, his 156th Bundesliga strike and 251st direct goal involvement in the league.

Emma Hayes’ era ends with another trophy

Back in England, it was the final day of the Women’s Super League season and the final game in charge of Chelsea for Emma Hayes. Just a few months ago, Chelsea were chasing a quadruple, but at the start of May it looked like they would finish trophyless.

The Blues lost in the League Cup final and were knocked out of the FA Cup and Champions League in the semi-finals. They then lost 4-3 to Liverpool, losing ground in the WSL title race.

But after that defeat, Chelsea scored 15 unanswered goals across their final three games, making up the goal difference deficit they had on Manchester City. They were also thankful for Man City losing to Arsenal in their penultimate match, allowing Chelsea the chance to win the league on goal difference.

It’s Chelsea’s fifth-consecutive WSL title and seventh in total, all of which have come under Hayes, who now departs to take charge of the United States Women’s National Team.

Union Berlin’s dramatic escape

It wasn’t all title races and top four finishes in the Bundesliga. There was still things to be settled at the other end of the table.

Union Berlin — who, let’s not forget were in the Champions League group stage this season — entered the final day of the Bundesliga campaign in the relegation play-off spot. The capital club needed to win and hope Bochum lost to overtake them and avoid having to play again for their spot in the Bundesliga.

It looked like it wasn’t coming. Bochum were losing to Werder Bremen, but Union Berlin went into injury-time against Freiburg level at 1-1, which wouldn’t have been enough.

Union Berlin were then awarded a penalty in the 92nd minute and the perfect chance to save their skins. Kevin Volland stepped up and saw his effort saved, but Janik Haberer reacted quickest to net the rebound, lifting Union Berlin above Bochum to guarantee safety.

Boavista leave it late

There was a similar story in the Primeira Liga. Boavista went into their final game of the season needing a point to avoid the relegation play-offs, leading Portimonense by two points with a big lead on goal difference.

But while Portimonense were beating Farense 3-1, Boavista trailed already-relegated Vizela deep into second-half injury time. But, in the 11th minute of injury time, Boavista were awarded a penalty.

With the last kick of the game, the last kick of the season, Miguel Reisinho made himself a hero. He dispatched the spot-kick, leading to a celebration akin to winning the World Cup, and keeping Boavista in the Primeira Liga.

Oxford seal long-awaited second-tier return

Oxford United haven’t been in the second-tier of English football this century. When they last tasted that level of football, it was still called Division 1.

Since their relegation in 1998/99, Oxford have dropped as low as non-league, when the National League was still called the Conference. After returning to the Football League in 2010, Oxford spent six seasons in League Two and eight in League One.

This was their eighth season, with a fifth-placed finish in League One securing a spot in the play-offs. Oxford beat Peterborough United in the semi-finals but were still the underdogs for the final against Bolton.

You wouldn’t have known it. Bolton didn’t have a single shot on target (from five attempts) at Wembley, while Oxford hit the target with five of their nine.

And, crucially, Josh Murphy scored twice in the first half to seal the 2-0 victory and a spot in the Championship.

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