Mönchengladbach (Germany) (AFP) – Robert Lewandowski equalised as defending champions Bayern Munich were held to a 1-1 draw at Borussia Moenchengladbach in a hard-fought opening game of the new Bundesliga season on Friday.
“It wasn’t perfect football from us,” Lewandowski told broadcaster Sat1.
“We made a lot of mistakes, but the first game is over, now we can look ahead.”
Gladbach deservedly took the lead when French striker Alassane Plea fired past Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer with just ten minutes gone.
Lewandowski levelled just before the break from a corner, but both sides wasted second-half chances to grab the winner.
Only superb saves from home goalkeeper Yann Sommer repeatedly denied Lewandowski and the Bayern attack.
At the other end, Gladbach substitute forward Marcus Thuram failed to connect with the goal at his mercy and later saw his appeals for a clear penalty waved away by the referee.
“There were fireworks from us in the first quarter of an hour,” Gladbach captain Lars Stindl told DAZN and hailed Sommer’s “world-class” performance.
Bayern’s new head coach Julian Nagelsmann is still waiting for his first victory after three defeats and a draw in pre-season friendlies.
The 34-year-old is under pressure to deliver a tenth straight Bundesliga title for Bayern in his first season.
– ‘Crazy game’ –
“We have to live with the point, both sides had chances, it was a pretty crazy game for the fans to watch, not so easy for the coaches,” Nagelsmann told DAZN.
Borussia Park was a third full as Bundesliga clubs welcome back supporters on the opening weekend of the season.
Bayern were missing injured France defender Benjamin Pavard, whose place went to reserve left-back Josip Stanisic for only his second Bundesliga appearance.
Gladbach tore open the Bayern defence after just six minutes when Patrick Herrmann sprinted clear and squared to Lars Stindl, who could not get a shot away.
Bayern fell behind when Canadian left-back Alphonso Davies lost the ball on halfway.
The ball was moved to Stindl, who flicked his pass onto Plea, who was unmarked and fired past Neuer.
At the other end, only a stunning reflex save by Sommer denied Lewandowski from point-blank range.
However, the Bundesliga’s record goal-scorer for a single season struck just before half-time to make it 1-1 at the break.
When Joshua Kimmich fired in a corner, Lewandowski slipped his marker and fired past Sommer, picking up when he left off last season when he scored a Bundesliga record 41 goals in 2020/21.
Bayern had a golden period approaching the hour mark when only more superb Sommer saves denied Davies, then Lewandowski in quick succession.
Gladbach won 3-2 when the sides last met at Borussia Park in January and the hosts again put up a fight.
Neuer did superbly well with a diving save to deny Stindl after Gladbach midfielder Hannes Wolf broke down the wing and squared inside.
With just over ten minutes left, Thuram came within a whisker of restoring the hosts’ lead when he just failed to connect with the goal at his mercy.
Referee Marco Fritz then waved away Gladbach’s furious calls for a penalty when Thuram appeared to be brought down in the area by new Bayern signing Dayot Upamecano.
New Gladbach head coach Adi Huetter received a yellow card on the sidelines for his impassioned protest.
Kimmich fired wide in added time.
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