Bayern Celebrate the 16th Title

Published May 20th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

German giants Bayern Munich took their 16th Bundesliga title on Saturday after they beat Werder Bremen 3-1 and leaders Bayer Leverkusen crashed to a 2-0 defeat to Unterhaching.  

Bayern finished level on 73 points with Leverkusen, who needed only a point to claim their first ever title, but won on superior goal difference of +45 to +38.  

It completed the double for Bayern as they also beat Werder Bremen to win the German Cup. 

Leverkusen were their worst own enemies as first Michael Ballack put the ball into his own net after 20 minutes then, as Leverkusen were pushing for the equalizer, Markus Oberleitner extended Unterhaching's lead on 72 minutes. 

Bayern - who needed a win - finished the job early with two goals by Carsten Jancker and a third from Paulo Sergio in the opening 16 minutes. 

Marco Bode pulled one back for Bremen shortly before the break but, with Unterhaching's unexpected 2-0 lead flashed up on the Bayern scoreboard during the second period, nothing could break Bayern's enthusiasm. 

"We saw how two minutes was enough for Manchester United to turn around last year's Champions League final (against Bayern)," Leverkusen coach Christian Daum said afterwards. 

"That's the fascination of football. Today though it's us who are suffering. We're disappointed; we're sad - sad that a good performance today was thwarted by a desperate Unterhaching side. 

"They really threw themselves into it. Congratulations too to Bayern. They scored a few extra goals and deserve to win the title." 

The day began to go wrong for Leverkusen after 20 minutes when Ballack scored into his own net while trying to clear a harmless Unterhaching cross. 

Just 13 kilometers away in Munich's Olympic stadium Bayern Munich already had their game against Werder Bremen wrapped up by then. 

Tantalisingly - in front of just 11,300 fans in Unterhaching's tiny sold out stadium on Munich's fringe - Leverkusen continued to struggle. 

Unterhaching's rigid defense - the best in the league on home turf - blunted the visitors' creative forwards. 

Leverkusen's death knell came when Oberleitner put Unterhaching 2-0 ahead, an unlikely score line which they held on until the bitter end. 

Across Munich a mighty roar engulfed the city's Olympic stadium as 63,000 nervous Bayern fans heard the second goal's announcement on portable radios. 

"It's incredible, just unbelievable," Bayern striker Jancker said. "I've never felt so emotional, it's overwhelming." 

"This is one of the real highlights in my life," Markus Babbel said after his final appearance for Bayern before moving to English club Liverpool. 

"There's no better way to say farewell. It's like getting Christmas and Easter all wrapped up into one." 

Bayern manager Uli Hoeness said: "I hoped just a little bit that it might be possible but didn't really believe it would be," "I'm really sorry for Leverkusen though, and I don't mean that as Schadenfreude, because I heard they scored an own goal. They were so close and really deserved it this season." 

Bayern promised Unterhaching a truckload of Bavarian wheat beer and white Wurst - regional specialties - if they beat Leverkusen and know they owe an enormous debt of gratitude to them.  

"Unterhaching are a fantastic partner club for us," Bayern deputy president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said. "It's partly due to us that they were promoted last season but what they did today, we can never make that up to them.  

"I feel for Christoph (Daum) because it's hard losing the title on the final day," Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said after being bathed in beer by his players.  

"He's a professional though and I wish him all the best. Compliments to Unterhaching as well. What they did was sensational. I never thought they would be able to beat Leverkusen because Leverkusen played a great second half to the season and deserved to be champions."  

Elsewhere SSV Ulm lost their relegation duel with Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1 and will join Duisburg and Arminia Bielefeld in the second division next season. Hansa Rostock stayed up by beating Schalke 0-2, their first away win this season.  

1860 Munich drew 1-1 with Kaiserslautern, a mutually beneficial result for both clubs. It kept 1860 fourth in the standings and puts them in the qualification series for next season's Champions League while Kaiserslautern finished fifth and has a place in the UEFA Cup.  

Hertha Berlin also has a UEFA Cup spot despite losing 3-0 to Borussia Dortmund. In the remaining games, VfL Wolfsburg beat SC Freiburg 2-1, VFB Stuttgart drew 3-3 with Bielefeld and Duisburg drew 1-1 with Hamburg – (AFP) 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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