Arjen Robben scored an early contender for goal of the season and James Rodriguez opened his account for 2018/19 as Bayern Munich inflicted a third successive defeat on Bayer Leverkusen.
Bayern Munich 3-1 Bayer Leverkusen
Goals: 0-1 Wendell (pen. 6'), 1-1 Tolisso (10'), 2-1 Robben (19'), 3-1 James (89')
Red card: Bellarabi (80')
Leverkusen could not have asked to make a more favourable start as Thiago conceded a penalty for handball inside six minutes. Kevin Volland's tame attempt was saved by Manuel Neuer, but Wendell made no such mistake after match referee Tobias Welz had ordered a retake for encroachment. Bayern weren't behind for long, though. Corentin Tolisso burst into the box, swiping in at the second attempt to restore parity, before Arjen Robben met Jonathan Tah's half clearance with a sensational first-time volley to put the hosts ahead.
Despite losing Tolisso to a serious-looking knee injury, Bayern continued to carve out chances, with Robben, Thomas Müller and Jerome Boateng going close before the break. Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky thwarted the irrepressible Robben early in the second half and then saved bravely at the feet of Robert Lewandowski after a fine bit of play from substitute James . Leverkusen had created next to nothing as it was, but their hopes of getting anything from the game were all but extinguished 10 minutes from normal time when Karim Bellarabi received a straight red card for a rash challenge on Rafinha. A late James header added salt into the wound.
- Lewandowski made his 200th competitive appearance for Bayern in this game. He has scored six times in the club's first five matches under Kovac.Tolisso scored his first Bundesliga goal against Leverkusen in last season's corresponding fixture.Robben scored his 140th competitive goal for Bayern (97th in the Bundesliga), overtaking Giovane Elber and trailing only Lewandowski in the club's all-time non-German scoring charts.Gnabry made his competitive debut as a Bayern player.Three of Wendell's last six Bundesliga goals have been penalties.
Bayern: Neuer (c) – Kimmich, Süle, Boateng, Rafinha (Alaba 82') – Thiago, Tolisso (James 42') – Robben, Müller, Gnabry (Martinez 59') – Lewandowski
Unused subs: Ulreich, Sanches, Ribery, Wagner
Absentees: Coman, Goretzka (both ankle), Hummels (hip)
Coach: Niko Kovac
Leverkusen: Hradecky – Jedvaj, Tah, S. Bender, Dragovic, Wendell – Kohr, L. Bender (c) (Brandt 27') – Bailey (Paulinho 83'), Volland (Bellarabi 73'), Havertz
Unused subs: Özcan, Weiser, Thelin, Alario
Absentees: Baumgartlinger (knee), Kirschbaum (thigh), Pohjanpalo (ankle), Retsos (thigh), Aranguiz (knee)
Coach: Heiko Herrlich
Watch: Thiago proud of turnaround!