MUNICH, May 1 (Bundesliga) - Relegation-threatened 1860 Munich produced a battling display but had to settle for a single point against high-fliers Bayer Leverkusen that keeps them in the drop zone with just three games remaining.
The home side opened the scoring through Paul Agostino in the fourth minute as 1860 played some of their best football of the season in the opening exchanges.
However, neither side possess rock solid defence - especially Leverkusen, who lost Jens Nowotny to injury in the pre-match warm-up - and 'Kusen finally made a telling incursion in the 48th minute, with Bernd Schneider grabbing the equaliser.
Although both sets of fans were entertained, no one would have been delighted with the point that helps neither side in their respective targets - Leverkusen are hoping to finish third and earn a crack at next season's Champions League.
Gerald Vanenburg made several changes from the 1860 side that lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich in his first game as coach last Sunday, but the biggest change was in the players' attitude as they chased, harried and hassled to win every ball.
It was therefore no surprise when 1860 took an early lead, although some suspect defending definitely played a part in that strike.
Carsten Ramelow produced the same uncertain performance in defence as he showed in Germany's 5-1 thrashing in Romania in midweek, Lance Davids' header to reach Agostino, who evaded a weak challenge from Teddy Lucic and beat goalkeeper Hans-Jorg Butt to put the home side ahead.
Taking the lead gave the home side yet more confidence and Davids could, and perhaps should, have made it two after 10 minutes, but his free header sailed over from ten yards.
Leverkusen hit straight back and highlighted 1860's own defensive frailties with efforts from Franca and Marko Babic almost bringing the visitors back on terms.
Brazilian Franca was allowed to run directly at goal for 20 yards before seeing a weak shot saved easily by Michael Hofmann, but the amount of space afforded him would have given 1860 coach Vanenburg cause for concern.
But he didn't make any immediate changes and a flood of red shirts continued to push forward towards the 1860 goal with Franca - again - and Yildiray Basturk threatening.
1860 then went back on the offensive with Andreas Gorlitz's lofted ball forward giving Fernando the chance to beat Butt, but his first touch took the ball too close to the Leverkusen 'keeper and the chance was lost.
Vanenburg then brought Cameroon striker Francis Kioyo into the fray for the unfortunate Davids, easing a bit of pressure on his ineffective midfield and adding a further option in attack five minutes before the break.
And the Lions continued to push forward with youngster Daniel Baier pulling a 20-yard effort just inches wide of Butt's right upright seconds before the interval.
The visitors were as quick out of the blocks in the second half as 1860 had been in the first, Bernd Schneider silenced the home fans with the equalising goal after 48 minutes.
Franca was again given time to run at the defence and the ball finally found its way to Schneider via the feet of Dimitar Berbatov and the Germany international curled a shot beyond the reach of Hofmann and in off the inside of his left-hand post.
Franca was proving a real handful to the home defence and it took a fine save from Hofmann to block the Brazilian's effort after he once again made a run into the box look easy in the 50th minute.
Germany Under-21 midfielder Hanno Balitsch would have been on the substitutes bench had Nowotny not sustained an injury in the pre-match warm-up and he had a chance to make a remarkable impact on the hour, but he contrived to volley the ball over from almost under the crossbar.
The home side's desperation came to the surface twenty minutes before the end when they felt Matthias Lehmann had been fouled inside the box by Ramelow, but referee Michael Weiner waved play-on.
Sensing the importance of getting three points instead of just one, 1860 committed even more men forward and Leverkusen were forced onto the back foot for the final 10 minutes.
Roman Tyce and Harald Cerny were both finding room on the right and Diego Placente was having a torrid time trying to keep them at bay, although neither found the telling cross or shot to put the home side back in front.
So Leverkusen held out to take a point for the second time this season in Munich, leaving 1860 just three games to try and escape from the relegation zone.