FRANKFURT: Bayer Leverkusen’s record-breaking run to their first Bundesliga title ended a 31-year drought which had earned the nickname ‘Neverkusen’.

Coach Xabi Alonso’s team made sure of the crown with five matches left after a 5-0 home victory over Werder Bremen extended their league run to 29 games – 25 wins and four draws.

Victor Boniface (penalty), Granit Xhaka and Florian Wirtz (three) scored the goals which prompted pitch invasions by fans and delerium in the stands and left Leverkusen 16 points clear of outgoing champions Bayern Munich.

The title was a personal triumph for Alonso who had taken on a struggling side in October 2022 with Leverkusen second-bottom after eight Bundesliga games, having their worst start to a season since 1979. They subsequently climbed to a sixth-place finish.

Subsequent key signings included Switzerland captain Xhaka, Germany international Jonas Hofmann, Alejandro Grimaldo – who registered nine goals and 11 assists as an attacking left-back – and the 23-year-old Nigeria striker Boniface.

Alonso said: “We wanted to play games with a good mentality this season and the players quickly started working well together. After the first few matches we saw this team can play really good football.

“But to achieve this in such a way was a top performance. Finally it is an honour to say that Leverkusen are champions. It is totally deserved for the team, fans and the club.

“We did not talk much about the title in the changing room but it was in our heads that this year we could be champions. Now we must enjoy the moment. It has been a totally intense season so far and it is not yet over. We cannot forget it.”

Leverkusen’s success had made Alonso a summer target for FC Bayern and Liverpool but he has decided that he will stay in the saddle for next season’s Champions League ride.