Bayer Leverkusen 1-3 Bayern Munich: Leaders win on return from winter break
Last Updated: 12/01/18 10:30pm
Bayern Munich have extended their lead at the top of the Bundesliga after securing a 3-1 victory at Bayer Leverkusen on the evening the division resumed after the winter break.
Bayern moved 14 points clear of second-placed Schalke, who on Saturday visit RB Leipzig, through goals from Javi Martinez, Franck Ribery and James Rodriguez.
Leverkusen, who remain fourth, reduced Bayern's lead in the 70th minute with a finish from Kevin Volland.
However, amid their attempts to apply pressure during a competitive fixture, they were unable to prevent Rodriguez restoring the defending champions' two-goal lead and sealing all three points.
Arturo Vidal had already threatened against his former team when in the 32nd-minute Spanish midfielder Martinez gave Bayern the lead.
This time Vidal saw a header blocked after Arjen Robben's corner from the right. When Leverkusen then struggled to clear, Martinez responded first and did so by shooting powerfully from close range and inside the near post beyond Bernd Leno.
The second Bundesliga goal of 2018 came just before the hour mark, from Ribery.
After receiving possession in space on the left wing, the 34-year-old ran forward into the penalty area, cut inside on his right foot, and finished low inside the near post.
Volland scored in the 70th minute from a similar effort. After taking the ball on the right, he ran into the visitors' penalty area before finding space on the edge of the D and shooting in off of the far post.
If Leverkusen were then in contention for a draw, they had further attempts on goal through Sven Bender, Volland and then Lucas Alario.
Rodriguez instead ensured that Bayern took all three points with a fine, stoppage-time free-kick after being brought down by Bender on the edge of the area.
The forward, on loan from Real Madrid, curled a perfectly weighted effort over the Leverkusen wall and into the top left corner, securing Bayern's first victory at the BayArena for five years.
Their caretaker manager Juup Heynckes - who incidentally oversaw that past victory - also handed new signing Sandro Wagner his debut from the bench, in the absence of the injured Robert Lewandowski.
His team next host Werder Bremen, while Leverkusen visit Hoffenheim.