Bayern charge stalled with Leverkusen draw

Bayern Munich's defender Niklas Suele (R) and Leverkusen's French striker Moussa Diaby vie for the ball during the German first division Bundesliga football match between Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen in Munich on on March 5, 2022.

Bayer Leverkusen have exposed Bayern Munich's defensive frailties but weren't able to glean more than a 1-1 draw from their Bundesliga encounter while Hertha Berlin have taken another step towards relegation.

Champions Bayern dropped points for the second time in four league games and posed more questions than answers ahead of their Champions League round-of-16 second leg against Salzburg on Tuesday following the first-leg 1-1 draw.

Bayern 'keeper Sven Ulreich prevented worse against Leverkusen, though his team made the better start.

Niklas Sule had fired Bayern ahead in the 18th minute after Leverkusen failed to properly clear a corner.

Leverkusen equalised in the 36th when Bayern captain Thomas Muller directed Kerem Demirbay's harmless-looking cross past his own goalkeeper.

Bayern, whose sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic missed the game after testing positive for COVID-19, stretched their lead to nine points while Leverkusen remained third, 14 points behind.

Hertha's inexorable slide towards the drop continued with a 4-1 loss at home to Eintracht Frankfurt, who'd lost their last three games.

Hertha had been hoping to challenge for European qualification ever since billionaire Lars Windhorst first invested in the club in 2019, but Tayfun Korkut's team have yet to win a game this year.

Hertha occupy the Bundesliga relegation play-off place with nine rounds remaining, and all their relegation rivals - Augsburg, Arminia Bielefeld, Stuttgart, even last-placed Greuther Furth - appear to be in better shape than the Berlin side, who've conceded 13 goals in their last four games.

Elesewhere, Leipzig scored late to draw with Freiburg 1-1, Wolfsburg defeated Union Berlin 1-0, and Bochum enjoyed a 2-1 win over last-placed Greuther Furth.

The Bundesliga fare came against the backdrop of shows of support for Ukraine across the league following the invasion by Russia.

Fans held Ukrainian flags in Munich, where a giant message on the field before kickoff said, 'Stop the war!' in German and English with both teams lined up around it.

Referee Daniel Siebert wore an armband in the blue and yellow colours of the Ukrainian flag, as did Bayern captain Muller.

In Berlin, the Ukrainian flag was shown on big screens with an appeal for peace, while the same message was displayed around the stadium on the advertising hoarding before kickoff.

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