Julian Nagelsmann felt his team deserved to lose after two Exequiel Palacios penalties condemned Bayern Munich to a 2-1 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen at BayArena on Sunday.
After title rivals Borussia Dortmund picked up three points on Saturday to move them top, a 22nd-minute deflected goal from Joshua Kimmich looked to have set Bayern on their way to retaking their position at the summit.
But Palacios converted twice from the spot after the break, both for fouls on Amine Adli, to inflict a third league defeat of the season on Bayern and hand Dortmund the advantage ahead of the pair's table-topping Klassiker after the upcoming international break.
Nagelsmann had no complaints with the defeat or the penalty decisions, both of which saw Adli initially handed a yellow card for diving until a VAR review intervened to award a spot-kick.
"I saw relatively quickly that both are penalties," Nagelsmann told DAZN after the game. "They definitely weren't dives.
"We deserved to lose. Except for the last ten minutes, we were the worse team.
"We did a lot on our own. A lot of pressing by ourselves, a lot of walking by ourselves."
2 - Exequiel Palacios is the third player to convert two penalties in a single Bundesliga match for Bayer 04 Leverkusen, joining Ulf Kirsten (2001 vs. Stuttgart) and Dimitar Berbatov (2006 vs. Kaiserslautern). Composure. #B04FCB pic.twitter.com/eZGmfAUMzm— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) March 19, 2023
Nagelsmann blamed fatigue for the below-par display, which saw them lose a Bundesliga game after leading at half-time for the first time in 87 matches since a 3-1 defeat against Leverkusen in February 2019.
"Today we were pretty sluggish overall," Nagelsmann added. "We won very few duels up front, but also in defence.
"We have some exhausted players, so of course it was difficult. We were very weak in our game."
Captain Thomas Muller agreed with his head coach that Bayern's efforts did not warrant anything out of the game, saying: "Leverkusen did very well today.
"Unfortunately, we put very little of what has made us strong in the last few games onto the pitch.
"Looking at the game as a whole, the defeat is unfortunately deserved today."
Though some of his players are now set to jet off to their respective national teams, Nagelsmann's sights are set firmly on that crucial clash with Dortmund in just under two weeks.
He is under no illusion of the importance of that fixture, explaining: "We definitely have to win [against Dortmund], otherwise it will be difficult to win the championship."