Bayern’s last-gasp Bundesliga title win follows a season of controversy and turmoil

DORTMUND, Germany (AP) – Bayern Munich won the German league title for the 11th year in a row, following a season of controversial decisions, dramatic comebacks and a fight to the very end.

The title fight went down to the final seconds as Bayern scored an 89th-minute goal to beat Cologne and Borussia Dortmund fell just short of victory in its 2-2 draw with Mainz. The champion was decided on goal difference.

Here is a look at key moments which shaped the title race:


After selling Erling Haaland to Manchester City, Dortmund signed the experienced Sébastien Haller as its new star striker. Weeks after he joined the club in July, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. After two operations and chemotherapy, he returned to action in January. Two key goals from Haller against Augsburg last week gave Dortmund the lead ahead of the final day of the season but he missed a crucial penalty against Mainz on Saturday.


Signed as an emergency replacement while Haller was undergoing cancer treatment, experienced forward Anthony Modeste was largely disappointing at Dortmund, except for one crucial game. In the first Bundesliga “Klassiker” against Bayern in October, the French forward came off the bench for the final 20 minutes with Dortmund 2-0 down and set up Youssoufa Moukoko to make it 2-1 before leveling the score with a header in the fifth minute of added time. Modeste hasn’t scored since, and made little impact off the bench Saturday.


Bayern went into the World Cup top of the table, nine points ahead of Dortmund in sixth, but that’s when its season took a turn for the worse. A Germany team packed with Bayern players was eliminated in the group stage in Qatar and then goalkeeper Manuel Neuer broke his leg while skiing on a post-World Cup vacation. Soon after, Neuer gave an interview criticizing Bayern’s management for firing a goalkeeping coach he favored, in a sign not all was well behind the scenes. Bayern signed Swiss keeper Yann Sommer as a replacement but he faced constant scrutiny from Bayern fans speculating whether Neuer would have saved the goals he let in.


In a decision which stunned the soccer world, Bayern decided to fire coach Julian Nagelsmann in March and appoint Thomas Tuchel instead. No matter that Bayern was leading the Bundesliga and had recently beaten Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League; Bayern’s management said the team had been too inconsistent since the World Cup and a 2-1 loss to Bayer Leverkusen was the final straw.


Despite having just a few days to prepare, Tuchel’s tenure got off to a triumphant start as Bayern won 4-2 at home against Dortmund, which had been on a 10-game unbeaten run in the Bundesliga. A goalkeeping error from Dortmund’s Gregor Kobel set the tone for a first-half collapse. Soon after, though, Bayern’s hopes of a treble of trophies ended with a German Cup loss to Freiburg and Champions League elimination at the hands of Manchester City. Tuchel ends the season with five wins, two draws and four losses from 11 games in all competitions – not Bayern’s usual standard.


Bayern handed Dortmund the league lead when Tuchel’s team conceded three late goals in a 3-1 loss to his old club Mainz in April, but got it back one week later as Dortmund was left fuming about a decision not to award a penalty for an apparent foul on Karim Adeyemi in its 1-1 draw with Bochum. The video assistant referee didn’t intervene. The German soccer federation later admitted a penalty should have been awarded. The decision potentially cost Dortmund two points which would have tipped the title race in its favor. Another Bayern collapse in the second-to-last game put Dortmund in the driving seat again, though, as Bayern gave away two penalties and lost 3-1 at home to a Leipzig team coached by Marco Rose, last season’s Dortmund coach. That meant Bayern was two points behind and had to win its last game against Cologne to have any chance of winning the title.


Needing a win over Mainz to end Bayern’s decade-long title streak, Borussia Dortmund started disastrously and conceded two headed goals to be 2-0 down after 24 minutes, missing a penalty as well. Bayern, meanwhile, seemed to be in control against Cologne following an eighth-minute goal from Kingsley Coman. There was more drama, though, as Dortmund cut the gap to 2-1 and then Dejan Ljubicic leveled the score for Cologne against Bayern in the 81st, again putting Dortmund on course for the title. Jamal Musiala’s winning goal eight minutes later tipped the balance back toward Bayern and Dortmund could only score once more for a 2-2 draw. That wasn’t enough and Bayern won the Bundesliga for the 11th time in a row.


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