Robert Lewandowski earns 9/10 for brace as Bayern Munich break winless streak
Ten-man Bayern Munich bounced back to winning ways with a comfortable 3-1 victory at Wolfsburg.
After the embarrassing news conference by club president Uli Hoeness, CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic on Friday, attention thankfully turned back to the beautiful game. Following four games without a win and two straight league defeats without scoring -- a genuine crisis in Bayern terms, the champions returned to winning ways against the toothless Wolves. Bayern move up to third place in the table with two-goal Robert Lewandowski ending his barren scoring run after 315 minutes without finding the net, coping easily with Arjen Robben's dismissal on 57 minutes.
Robben was given his marching orders for two bookable offences, while there was an unnecessarily edgy nine-minute spell after Wout Weghorst had reduced the arrears for the home side, before James Rodriguez settled any nerves with a decisive third goal.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Coming under real pressure early in his tenure, Niko Kovac dampened any further speculation (for the moment) with a precious win, switching to a 4-4-1 after Robben's rare red, leaving James on the pitch to settle the game.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Manuel Neuer, 6 -- Hardly tested on a gentle reintroduction to the fray after his struggles with Germany. Could do nothing to prevent the consolation goal but picked up a yellow card in the final minute for time wasting.
DF David Alaba, 6 -- Recovered from a hamstring injury against Gladbach to take his place in the starting line-up, but one can only assume he has suffered a reoccurrence as he was taken off at the break.
DF Niklas Sule, 6 -- Lucky to escape censure for foul on Maxi Arnold as last defender in the first half, but otherwise had everything more or less under his control.
DF Mats Hummels, 7 -- Cruised through the game with grace and elegance alongside his younger Germany teammate Sule.
DF Joshua Kimmich, 7 -- Always a real threat going forward on the right flank, seeing a firm shot saved midway through first half.
MF Javi Martinez, 7 -- Didn't feature against Gladbach, but his recall gave Bayern increased solidity and a solid and reassuring presence in defensive midfield.
MF Thiago, 8 -- His clever dummy from Hummels' pass allowed Lewandowski to do what he does best for the crucial opener before he saw yellow after leading with his elbow and clattering into Renato Steffen. Thiago was at the heart of all Bayern's inventiveness all afternoon.
MF James Rodriguez, 8 -- The Colombia star only returned to Munich on Thursday from international duty but produced a welcome return to his impressive debut season form. He saw a free kick easily saved in the 12th minute and fired straight at Casteels immediately after Bayern had taken the lead, before settling any nerves with a cool finish after Lewandowski's cute pass. He received the plaudits from the Bayern travelling army when taken off on 83 minutes for Sanches.
MF Serge Gnabry, 7 -- The former Arsenal winger breathed new life into Bayern's left flank with a host of powerful, pacy "serges" forward before he was hooked off just after Wolfsburg's goal for the more-defensively-minded Goretzka.
MF Arjen Robben, 5 -- A trademark left-footed drive tested goalkeeper Koen Casteels in the Wolfsburg goal after 25 minutes, getting into numerous promising areas in a bright first half only dampened by his caution for diving just before the interval. The "Flying Dutchman's afternoon was curtailed after he picked up his second card for an ankle tap and jogged off the pitch with an ironic grin on his face on 57 minutes. Robben received his marching orders for the first time since his dismissal in the final minute against Nuremberg in April 2011.
FW Robert Lewandowski, 9 -- After an unprecedented run of over five hours without a goal, Lewandowski ended his scoring drought by cooling nutmegging Casteel and doubled the lead after getting on the end of a tame Wolves back header. Not content with that, Lewandowski turned provider with a sublime assist for James' third which ended the game as a contest. He was denied a deserved hat-trick on 75 minutes by the overworked Casteels.
DF Rafinha, 6 -- Made his return from ankle ligament damage, replacing Alaba at the break. Provoked a few worrying moments soon after the restart after the referee awarded a spot-kick for a challenge in the box, before spotting the linesman's flag for offside.
DF Leon Goretzka, 6 -- After losing Robben, Goretzka replaced Gnabry a couple of minutes after Wolfsburg's goal to give Bayern an extra body in midfield
MF Renato Sanches, N/R -- A few minutes added to the learning curve after replacing James with the game done and dusted.