Berlin, Jan 13 (IANS) Bayern Munich started with a victory into the second half of the football season after two second-half goals were enough to end Leverkusen's unbeaten run at the opener of the 18th round in Bundesliga.
The "Bavarians" got the better of Bayer Leverkusen as goals from Javi Martinez, Franck Ribery and James Rodriguez secured the first three points of 2018, reports Xinhua news agency.
The reigning champions controlled the proceedings on the pitch from the kick-off on Friday. Arturo Vidal worked out two opportunities in the opening period but Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno was on guard twice to maintain parity.
However, the host's goalkeeper was hapless in the 32nd minute when Vidal's header on target was blocked allowing Javi Martinez to slot home the opener following a rebound from close range.
Leverkusen lacked in clear-cut chances in the first half but after the restart Leon Bailey almost levelled the scores but his effort rattled only the bar with 54 minutes played.
Just when the hosts were on the front foot, Bayern doubled the scores out of the blue as Rodriguez passed into the path of Franck Ribery, who had all time and space to place the ball into the bottom near corner in the 59th minute.
Leverkusen kept it bowling and pulled one back in the 71st minute when Kevin Volland unleashed a shot on target, which got deflected by defender Niklas Suele, to beat Sven Ulreich.
The "Werkself" hoped for a late draw on home soil but Bayern Munich had an ace in the hole as James Rodriguez curled a late free kick over the wall into the top left corner to restore their two goal lead in the dying minutes of the game.
"Overall my team played tactically and defensively very well today. However, after the two goal lead we lost our focus a little bit," Bayern head coach Jupp Heynckes said.
Bayern remain atop the Bundesliga standings with a 14-point advantage whereas Bayer Leverkusen stay on the 4th place.
On Saturday, runner up Schalke travel to Leipzig, newly promoted Stuttgart face Berlin, Bremen see Hoffenheim, Frankfurt host Freiburg, Augsburg meet Hamburg and newly promoted Hannover take on Mainz.