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Soccer-Leverkusen confirm contender status with 3-2 opening win over Leipzig


BERLIN (Reuters) – Bayer Leverkusen battled past visitors RB Leipzig 3-2 in an entertaining Bundesliga opener on Saturday to confirm their pre-season status as potential title contenders.

Xabi Alonso’s team looked sharp from the start with new signing Victor Boniface adding considerable firepower to their attack.

Despite some sloppy defending that allowed Leipzig to twice cut the deficit, they bagged the three points to draw level with champions Bayern Munich, 4-0 winners at Werder Bremen on Friday.

Leipzig, fresh from last week’s 3-0 German Super Cup win over Bayern, had the early chances but it was the hosts who struck first.

Nigeria striker Boniface superbly set up Jeremie Frimpong for a tap-in after 24 minutes and Jonathan Tah doubled their lead 11 minutes later with a powerful header from a corner.

The visitors pulled a goal back with Dani Olmo’s glancing header at the near post in the 39th, with the Spaniard now having scored four times in two matches after his hat-trick against Bayern.

Leverkusen briefly restored their two-goal cushion when Germany international Florian Wirtz, whose earlier point-blank shot was saved by Leipzig’s Janis Blaswich, sensationally chipped the ball over the keeper after 64 minutes.

Leipzig again cut the deficit six minutes later with Lois Openda’s close-range header. The Belgian forward then hit the post in the 74th as Leipzig went in search of an equaliser but they eventually ran out of time.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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