Bayern Munich go 14 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga with victory at Bayer Leverkusen, courtesy of goals by Javi Martinez, Franck Ribery and James Rodriguez. The result ends Leverkusen's 12-game unbeaten streak.
Bayer Leverkusen 1 -3 Bayern Munich
(Volland 70‘ — Martinez 32‘, Ribery 59‘, Rodriguez 90’+1)
Franck Ribery may be in the twilight of his career, but his value to Bayern still cannot be understated.
All eyes were on new signing Sandro Wagner, who was restricted to a late cameo despite the absence of Robert Lewandowski, but it was a trademark dribble and instinctive low finish by Ribery shortly before the hour that settled this game.
His goal ensured the Frenchman becomes the first non-German player to score in 11 Bundesliga seasons for Bayern.
For all the calls to replace him – and his partner in crime Arjen Robben – Bayern will be hard pressed to find a winger as effective and consistent. His strike made it 2-0 and effectively put the game out of Leverkusen’s reach.
The hosts went into the game on a high. Undefeated since September, Leverkusen have flourished under Heiko Herrlich and played without fear, shifting the ball to Leon Bailey at every opportunity as the Jamaican tried to rip through a Bayern defence missing Mats Hummels.
But Bayern soaked it up and eventually took their chance through Javi Martinez’s close range finish in the first half. Ribery made it two capping an electrifying Bayern counter-attack, which saw Ribery collect a pass from James Rodriguez, cut inside and find the bottom corner with apparent ease – all moments after Bailey’s deft feet created a shooting opportunity but his clipped effort grazed the top of the bar.
Leverkusen didn’t just sit back and take their medicine though. Bailey was a menace and his searing pace left Rafinha for dead, but Kevin Volland could only drag his shot wide. But Volland found the net soon after, jinking his way into a shooting position and lashing in from just inside the box.
Ribery made way for Wagner for the final ten minutes as Jupp Heynckes eases the new signing into his new surroundings, but it was Rodriguez who had the final say. The Colombian was tripped just outside the box, and dusted himself down to bend a peach of a free-kick into the top corner.
Another win was in the bag for Bayern and the scoreline was identical to when these sides met on the opening day of the season. The early signs for 2018 are that it’s business as usual for Bayern, and their elder statesman.
As it happened:
90+2' Bayern substitution — Corentin Tolisso replaces Thomas Müller, a straight substitution from Jupp Heynckes.
90+1' GOAL — James Rodriguez picks out the top corner with a free kick just outside the penalty area after drawing a foul from Sven Bender. Leverkusen 1, Bayern Munich 3
90+1' — Four minutes of stoppage time added.
90' — Sven Bender fouls James Rodriguez at the top of the penalty area.
89' — Arturo Vidal looks confounded after Daniel Siebert after the referee calls a foul on the Chilean midfielder for a challenge on Lars Bender in midfield.
87' — Thomas Müller heads down a David Alaba cross for James Rodriguez at the top of the penalty area, but the Colombian midfielder misses wide left with his effort.
79' Bayern Munich substitution — DEBUT! Sandro Wagner replaces Franck Ribery, a tactical substitution from Jupp Heynckes. Thomas Müller moves from center forward to the right wing, and Kingsley Coman switches from the right to the left.
77' — Lucas Alario dribbles around a slow Javi Martinez and unleashes a shot from the top of the penalty area, but his effort misses wide left.
77' Leverkusen substitution — Admir Mehmedi replaces Julian Brandt, a straight change from Heiko Herrlich.
76' — Javi Martinez turns the ball over as Lucas Alario steals a pass in midfield. The Argentinian forward finds Kevin Volland on the right side of the penalty area and fires a shot, but Jerome Boateng steps in just in time.
73' — David Alaba, cross blocker! The Austrian defender blocks two Benjamin Henrichs cross attempts from the right wing, one out for a corner. Sven Bender header from the ensuing corner misses wide left.
71' GOAL — Kevin Volland dribbles to the center of the penalty area and files a shot off of both Javi Martinez and Niklas Süle. Volland has now scored 10 goals in the Bundesliga. Leverkusen 1, Bayern 2
65' Bayern substitution — Kingsley Coman replaces Arjen Robben, a straight change from Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes.
65' Leverkusen substitution — Lucas Alario replaces Dominik Kohr, an aggresive tactical substitution from Heiko Herrlich.
62' — Leon Bailey dribbles around Jerome Boateng on the left wing. He picks out Kevin Volland in the center of the penalty area, but the German forward can not find the target with his first-time shot.
61' — Wendell fouls Arjen Robben in a rash standing challenge on the right wing. Leverkusen has seven fouls in the game, Bayern Munich eight.
60' Leverkusen substitution — Benjamin Henrichs replaces Karim Bellarabi, a tactical substitution from Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich. Leverkusen is now playing with a four-man defense.
59' GOAL — James Rodriguez switches the play to Franck Ribery, who dribbles right at Jonathan Tah on the left side of the penalty area. The Frenchman puts the ball on his right foot and fires a shot past Bernd Leno to double Bayer's lead. Leverkusen 0, Bayern Munich 2
56' — Thomas Müller lunges back to collect a ball from Arjen Robben at the top of the penalty area. He turns quickly and shoots, but his effort rolls wide right.
55' — Look at those moves! Leon Bailey turns Niklas Süle around with a couple of dribbles before firing a shot off the crossbar.
53' — Javi Martinez tries to slow down Kevin Volland before he makes a run with the ball into the penalty area, but pushes him to the ground with a foul. Julian Brandt hits the wall with the ensuing free kick, and Sven Bender cannot get his foot to the rebound.
52' — James Rodriguez tries to pick out Thomas Müller at the top of the penalty area with a long pass. Bernd Leno comes off his line to punch the ball away.
50' — Arjen Robben receives a pass from Javi Martinez and dribbles straight at Wendell on the right wing. Robben cuts it back and rolls a pass behind Müller, which Jonathan Tah clears away.
47' — Groundskeepers are frantically clearing streamers from one corner of the field as the BayArena crowd lauches them from the stands.
46' — Karim Bellarabi crosses a ball into the penalty area after receiving the ball from Julian Brandt. Javi Martinez clears it out of bounds.
46' Second half kickoff
21:20 — Bayern Munich have dominated Leverkusen across the board in the first half. The defending champions have outshot Leverkusen nine to four and has held 55 percent of the possession.
44' — Arjen Robben receives the ball on the right side of the penalty area and fires a left-footed shot. Sven Bender heads it away, and Arturo Vidal cannot get a handle on the rebound for a shot of his own.
42' — Rafinha fouls Julian Brandt while trying to slide tackle the ball out of play. Referee Daniel Siebert shows Rafinha a yellow card.
40' — Niklas Süle rises up on a corner from the left, but his header flies over the crossbar. Bayern have had six corners in the game, Leverkusen just one.
39' — Nearly a costly mistake from Leverkusen. James Rodriguez plays a ball over the top toward Arjen Robben. Wendell tries to clear the ball away, but Bernd Leno has to punch the ball out for a corner. Wendell immediately apologizes to his goalkeeper.
38' — Javi Martinez nearly scores again! The Bayern midfielder rises up over Julian Brandt on a corner, but his header bounces wide left.
32' GOAL — Arturo Vidal's header from a corner is blocked by Sven Bender. Javi Martinez jumps on the ricochet and fires a shot into the back of the net. Leverkusen 0, Bayern Munich 1
32' — Arjen Robben finds Thomas Müller on the right side of the penalty area. Thomas Müller tries to back-heel the ball into the center of the box, but Wendell blocks the pass out for a corner.
28' — Kai Havertz collects a long pass from midfield in the penalty area. He sets up Lars Bender for a long-range shot, but his effort flies over the crossbar.
26' — Thomas Müller fouls Kevin Volland trying to win the ball back in the penalty area on a slide tackle. Siebert shows Müller a yellow card, his third of the season.
25' — Franck Ribery plays David Alaba in on the left wing, but Alaba's delivery is cleared away. James Rodriguez jumps on the rebound, but his shot slices wide left.
24' — David Alaba puts in a cross from the left wing, but Sven Bender clears the ball away.
22' — Niklas Süle takes down Kevin Volland as the Leverkusen forward tries to hold up the ball in midfield, Bayern's first foul in the game.
20' — Leon Bailey dribbles around Rafinha and winds up for a cross. His delivery is blocked by Jerome Boateng, and Bailey has to reset the play after collecting the rebound.
17' — Dominik Kohr off target! The Leverkusen midfielder beats James Rodriguez to a corner, but his header flies wide left.
16' — Two chances for Arturo Vidal! His shot from the left side of the penalty area is saved out for a corner. His header from said corner is knocked down by Leno.
15' — Karim Bellarabi fouls Franck Ribery on a slide tackle as Ribery collects the ball on the left side of midfield. Siebert shows Bellarabi a yellow card, his second of the season.
13' — Franck Ribery feeds Thomas Müller into the right side of the penalty area. Müller crosses a ball towards the oncoming run of James Rodriguez, but Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno snatches the ball from the air.
11' — Kevin Volland fouls Javi Martinez on a late standing challenge. Siebert shows Volland a yellow card, the forward's second this season.
10' — Sven Bender pulls back James Rodriguez while the Colombian midfielder tries to run forward on a break. Siebert has a quick discussion with Bender afterwards, appearing to give the Leverkusen defender a verbal warning.
7' — Franck Ribery tries to make a run into the penalty area after a combination with Arturo Vidal, but Jonathan Tah gets in the French winger's way. Ribery puts his arms up in dismay, pleading his case to referee Daniel Siebert.
4' — Bayern Munich starts a terrific break with Arturo Vidal playing Arjen Robben into space on the right wing. The Dutch winger cuts inside and passes a ball across the box to Franck Ribery. Karim Bellarabi blocks a quick shot from Ribery, but fouls James Rodriguez just outside the trying to win the ball back. Rodriguez's free kick from the left is cleared at the far post by Sven Bender.
2' — Leverkusen using a three-man defense (Jonathan Tah, Sven Bender, Wendell) with Lars Bender in midfield.
20:10 — What do you think will happen?
20:07 — The second half of the Bundesliga season starts tonight. Here is some DW material to get you ready for the restart!
20:04 — An interesting player comparison: Leverkusen's Leon Bailey against Bayern's Kingsley Coman.
20:01 — Bayern Munich have not had much winning success in Leverkusen recently...
20:00 — Robbery is back!
19:51 — Sandro Wagner awaits his first appearance for Bayern Munich since returning to the club earlier this month.
19:37 — Here are tonight's lineups!