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Bayern 3 Bayer Leverkusen 0

Champions storm to victory over Bayer

Bayern maintained their perfect start to the 2015/16 campaign with a convincing 3-0 victory at home to high-flying Bayer 04 Leverkusen on Saturday, taking the champions back to the top of the Bundesliga table overnight with the full nine points from their first three matches.

The 75,000 capacity crowd at the Allianz Arena saw Thomas Müller open the scoring on 26 minutes, with the excellent Douglas Costa hitting the goal frame shortly afterwards in a first half largely controlled by the home team. Müller made it two from the spot on the hour and Arjen Robben added a deserved third, also from a penalty, to round off a very impressive third win in three for the in-form champions.

The result sees the Reds go back to the top of the standings on nine points, at least until Dortmund’s home meeting with Hertha Berlin on Sunday, with Wolfsburg and Köln currently behind the Bavarians on seven points. The league now takes a two-week international break before the men from Munich are back in action in the Bavarian derby against FC Augsburg at the Allianz Arena on Saturday 12 September.

Three-man back line

Confronted with a selection crisis at centre-back, with Jerome Boateng suspended and Mehdi Benatia, Javi Martinez, Holger Badstuber and Jan Kirchhoff all injured, Bayern boss Pep Guardiola opted for a radical solution compared to the team that posted a last-gasp victory over Hoffenheim last weekend.

The champions started with Manual Neuer in goal behind a three-man defence of Juan Bernat, David Alaba, and captain Philipp Lahm. Xabi Alonso took the holding role but was always likely to help out at centre-back as required, with Arturo Vidal and Thiago also in midfield. The front four featured Robben, Müller, Costa and Robert Lewandowski as the centre-forward.

Thomas on target

Following an emotional official farewell to long-serving striker Claudio Pizarro and after referee Florian Meyer whistled play underway on a hot evening in the Bavarian capital, the Reds started on the front foot and Thiago curled the first clear-cut chance from Robben’s 12th-minute lay-off just a shade over Bayer keeper Bernd Leno’s bar.

Roger Schmidt’s visitors were not afraid to mix it physically and there were early yellows for Wendell and World Cup winner Christoph Kramer. But the champions patiently waited for openings and took the lead with their first real chance, Costa accelerating past Roberto Hilbert and crossing for Müller to apply the finish and take his tally to 75 goals in 200 Bundesliga appearance.

The home side had the bit between their teeth now and Robben set up a superb chance on the half-hour, chipping to the far post where Costa unluckily saw his first-time effort rebound from the goal frame. The men in red had it under control but there was a let-off after 37 minutes when Hakan Calhanoglu blasted a trademark 25-yard free-kick onto Neuer’s crossbar. All in all, Bayern’s first-half lead was narrow but deserved.

Dominant second period

Robben had a good shout for a penalty waved aside in the first incident of the second half, before Alaba cleared at the last second with Stefan Kiessling lurking, but there was soon a big chance at the other end when Robben released Lewandowski for a run at goal, keeper Leno firing his attempted clearance straight at the Polish hitman only for the ball to dribble past the right-hand post.

But Bayern kept up the pressure and earned a penalty on the hour, Hilbert wrestling Vidal to the ground at a corner. Leno’s reputation as a tough man to beat from the spot failed to faze Müller, who calmly waited for the keeper to dive before shooting down the middle and doubling the lead.

Munich were in full flow and were awarded another penalty 20 minutes from the end, Costa crossing from the left and the hapless Hilbert handling the ball. Mr Meyer whistled and Robben took a turn as taker, easily beating Leno to the keeper’s left.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley