2017/2018 German Bundesliga
  • Kevin Volland (70')
  • Javi Martínez (32')
  • Franck Ribéry (59')
  • James Rodríguez (90'+1')

James Rodriguez inspires Bayern Munich to defeat of Leverkusen

James Rodriguez celebrates after scoring a goal against Bayer Leverkusen. Getty Images

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.

They moved 14 points clear of second-placed Schalke, who visit RB Leipzig on Saturday, 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 Jupp 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.

German Bundesliga Standings

1 Bayern Munich 34 +68 82
2 Borussia Dortmund 34 +43 69
3 RB Leipzig 34 +44 66
4 Borussia Monchengladbach 34 +26 65
5 Bayer Leverkusen 34 +17 63
6 TSG Hoffenheim 34 0 52
7 VfL Wolfsburg 34 +2 49
8 SC Freiburg 34 +1 48
9 Eintracht Frankfurt 34 -1 45
10 Hertha Berlin 34 -11 41
11 FC Union Berlin 34 -17 41
12 Schalke 04 34 -20 39
13 Mainz 34 -21 37
14 FC Cologne 34 -18 36
15 FC Augsburg 34 -18 36
16 Werder Bremen 34 -27 31
17 Fortuna Düsseldorf 34 -31 30
18 SC Paderborn 07 34 -37 20