Javi Martinez, Franck Ribery and James Rodriguez did the damage as Bayern Munich claimed a commendable 3-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen at the BayArena on Friday, increasing their lead at the Bundesliga summit to 14 points.
Jupp Heynckes' men were the controlling force for most of the match and, although Leverkusen found some hope through a deflected Kevin Volland goal, Bayern ended their hosts' 12-match unbeaten run and claim a first win at the BayArena since March 2013 despite Robert Lewandowski's absence due to a knee injury.
The entertaining first half was initially end-to-end, with the two sides having fairly equal shares of the ball, but Bayern gradually gained control and identified Leverkusen's main weaknesses; their susceptibility at set-pieces and Karim Bellarabi's reluctance to track back.
As such, it came as little surprise to see Bayern's opener come via a corner, with Javi Martinez slamming home after Leverkusen failed to clear their lines.
The in-form Leon Bailey went close to a stunning equaliser when he struck the crossbar nine minutes after the break and Bayern soon made the most of that, as Ribery rounded off a swift break with his first Bundesliga goal of the season.
Volland pulled one back via a deflection of Niklas Sule in the 70th minute to usher in a period of intense Leverkusen pressure, but Bayern - who introduced new signing Sandro Wagner late on - wrapped things up through James' exquisite stoppage-time free-kick to increase their lead at the top ahead of Schalke's trip to RB Leipzig on Saturday.
Bayern were the first to craft an opportunity as Arjen Robben led a break and picked out Ribery at the back post, but Bellarabi recovered to block the Frenchman's eventual effort.
A couple more chances fell to the visitors in quick succession in the 17th minute, with Bernd Leno forced to turn Arturo Vidal's effort from an acute angle around the post, before saving the Chilean's header from the resulting corner.
Leverkusen's first real chance a few moments later should have opened the scoring, but the unmarked Dominik Kohr headed wide from the left-wing corner.
And Bayern punished his profligacy in the 32nd minute – Martinez blasting in from close range after Vidal's header ricocheted into his path.
Things nearly got worse for Leverkusen a few minutes later, but Vidal nodded just wide.
Leverkusen did not appear any more of a threat initially after the break, but a moment of individual brilliance from Bailey nearly restored parity in the 55th minute.
The Jamaican winger darted into the right side of the penalty area and left Sule in knots, before chipping a left-footed effort on to the bar.
Bayern took full advantage soon after, as they caught Leverkusen on the break and Ribery – exploiting the space left by Bellarabi – strode into the left side of the area before tucking his effort into the bottom-left corner.
But luck was on Leverkusen's side 20 minutes from time, as Volland's effort from just outside the penalty area took a huge deflection off Sule and beat the helpless Sven Ulreich.
Another chance presented itself to Volland late on, as Kai Havertz fed the striker into the penalty area, but his first touch was poor and allowed Ulreich to make a vital save.
And James ended Leverkusen's fading chances in stoppage time, caressing a free-kick into the top-left corner from the edge of the area to cap off a strong individual performance.
Key Opta Facts:
- Franck Ribery scored his 113th goal for Bayern Munich in all competitions equaling Mario Gomez for 11th place all-time at the club.
- Bayer Leverkusen scored in their 23rd consecutive Bundesliga match – by far the best streak of any team in the division.
- Sandro Wagner made his comeback for Bayern in the Bundesliga after 3785 days, his last game for them took place on September 2, 2007.
- Jupp Heynckes has won 10 of his 11 Bundesliga matches since coming back as Bayern coach, losing only to Borussia Monchengladbach.
- Wendell played in his 100th Bundesliga game and became the fifth Brazilian to do so for Leverkusen.
22. Januar 2019
|Ulster hand lifetime ban to spectator after Zebo abuse|
|Phehlukwayo´s career-best day inspires Proteas against Pakistan|
|Bournemouth pounce for Brentford´s Mepham|
|You say all signings are controversial – Valverde defends Boateng arrival|
|Search for missing Sala plane suspended|
|Kohli and Williamson display mutual respect as India and Black Caps prepare for battle|
|Qatar 1 Iraq 0: Al Rawi free-kick books quarter-final spot|
|Ba joins Adebayor and Robinho at Istanbul Basaksehir|
|BREAKING NEWS: Tottenham´s Alli out until March with hamstring injury|
|Fit-again Joseph added to England squad|
|It is very, very serious for us - Tuchel wants midfielder in January window|
|Lakers expect Rajon Rondo back Thursday as LeBron James continues rehab|
|Atletico Madrid boosted as Koke thigh injury revealed to be minor|
|South Korea 2 Bahrain 1 (after extra time): Kim Jin-su seals quarter-final spot|
|AC Milan confirm Zapata thigh injury|
|I miss him a lot - Guardiola confirms ´clever´ Mendy back in Man City squad|
|Tiafoe wants LeBron meeting after run to Australian Open quarters|
|Cardiff continue to ´pray´ for Sala|
|West Ham fined over Burnley clash chaos|
|Knicks star Enes Kanter frustrated by reduced role|
|Kvitova getting back to her best, says Barty|
|Kvitova revels in first semi of ´second career´|
|Messi´s the best player in every world – Boateng dismisses past Real Madrid comments|
|Thunder frustrations continue against Renegades|
|Alonso vows to clear name in tax fraud case|
|Classy Nadal downs Tiafoe to set up Tsitsipas semi|
|Hoedt leaves Southampton for Celta Vigo on loan|
|Melbourne City 4 Western Sydney Wanderers 3: Hosts edge thriller with two goals in last six minutes|
|Wilder won´t even pick up the phone - Hearn not hopeful of AJ bout|
|Sala was on board missing plane, say French authorities|
|Arsenal´s Bellerin out for season with ACL rupture|
|Gatland waiting on ´concrete´ offers|
|Ronaldo accepts prison sentence and €18.8m fine for tax fraud|
|Tsitsipas: It was vital to back up Federer win|
|Awesome Kvitova ends Barty´s home run in Melbourne|
|CA rejects Thunder appeal for full points in abandoned Heat clash|
|Emiliano Sala: Concerns grow for Cardiff striker after plane goes missing|
|Harden unimpressed with refs in Rockets´ 76ers disappointment|
|Ronaldo arrives for sentencing in tax fraud case|
|Record-breaking evening ´one of those nights´ for Warriors star Thompson|
|Hazard still interested in Real Madrid but won´t rule out Chelsea stay|
|Collins moves past Pavlyuchenkova, into Australian Open semis|
|Kohli makes history with ICC awards sweep|
|Thompson sets NBA record with 10 straight made three-pointers to open game|
|76ers hand Rockets largest loss of season, Harden scores 37 points|
|Tsitsipas overcomes Bautista Agut to continue Aus Open run|
|Barcelona move a ´dream come true´ for Boateng|
|Rams coach McVay on Gurley: I´ve got to get him more opportunities|
|Butler´s sprained wrist not expected to keep him out ´long term´|
|Saints owner Benson will ´aggressively pursue changes in NFL policies´|
|Levante to take Copa case to CAS|
|It can happen – Allegri plays down Ronaldo penalty miss|
|Mavericks´ Doncic becomes second-youngest player to record triple-double|
|Yankees send Sonny Gray to Reds|
|Ashley Cole reunited with Frank Lampard at Derby County|
|Arnold ready to mix things up in 2019 Asian Cup quarter-finals|
|Arum: Joshua desperately needs to fight in the United States|
21. Januar 2019
|South Korea v Bahrain: Bento optimistic of continuing unblemished campaign|
|Bolton Wanderers 0 West Brom 2: Baggies bounce up to third after tennis ball protest|
|Confident Moeen ready to shine for England in the Caribbean|
|Juventus 3 Chievo 0: Allegri´s men cruise despite Ronaldo penalty save|
|Boateng completes shock Barcelona switch|
|United Arab Emirates 3 Kyrgyzstan 2 (after extra time): Khalil penalty sets up Socceroos showdown|
|West Indies add Drakes to new-look coaching team|
|Barcelona is a huge opportunity – Boateng confirms shock move is close|
|Donnarumma wishes Higuain luck ahead of expected Chelsea switch|
|Qatar v Iraq: Katanec anticipating ´huge challenge´ in last 16|
|Nuno hit with FA misconduct charge for pitch celebration|
|Furious Carreno Busta and Zverev bow out, Djokovic marches on|
|#NotMartinFromWakefield – Siewert shows viral sensation the door|