Bayern returns to top of Bundesliga with 3-1 win in Mainz

December 2, 2016
Bayern's Arjen Robben, right, and Bayern's Thomas Mueller celebrate their side's second goal during a German first division Bundesliga soccer match between FSV Mainz 05 and Bayern Munich in Mainz, Germany, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016.(AP Photo/Michael Probst)

BERLIN (AP) — It was far from convincing but Bayern Munich did enough to return to the top of the Bundesliga on goal difference with a 3-1 win at Mainz on Friday.

Robert Lewandowski scored two goals against his favorite Bundesliga opponent with Arjen Robben grabbing the other as Bayern joined promoted Leipzig on 30 points. The defending champions are three goals better off before Leipzig’s game at home against Schalke on Saturday.

“I’ll be relatively relaxed watching the game,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said. “I mean it’s up to Bayern. If we keep delivering then we’ve every chance of being Bundesliga champion.”

Rummenigge’s side suffered an early setback when Jhon Cordoba fired Mainz ahead in the fourth minute. The Colombian easily eluded Javi Martinez’ weak challenge and fired beyond the despairing Manuel Neuer inside the far post.

Lewandowski equalized just minutes later, however. Robben set him up with a simple pass after Philipp Lahm broke up an attack with a finely timed challenge on Yunus Malli to start a counter.

“You can see that he got me first and then the ball,” said Malli, unhappy that the referee waved play on.

Mainz continued attacking and was enjoying the lion’s share of possession but Robben made the difference. The unmarked Dutch winger headed Bayern in front in the 21st, when Thomas Mueller chased down Franck Ribery’s wayward cross and produced a fine cross.

Mueller had just missed a good chance himself when he only had the goalkeeper to beat. The Germany forward, who scored 32 goals across all competitions for Bayern last season, continues waiting for his first league goal this campaign.

“When we play well together and combine well, it’s fun for me. Everything’s fine,” said Mueller, playing down his goal-drought.

Robben might have scored again shortly afterward but his attempted lob landed wide.

Martinez was having a difficult game. The Spaniard was booked for handball when he stopped Karim Onisiwo from going through on goal before the break. In Bayern’s previous game, Martinez used his hand to deny Bayer Leverkusen a late equalizer but that infringement was missed by the match officials.

“We were really, really good in the first half. We should have scored more goals,” said Robben, who praised his side’s movement and unpredictability. “That was missing the last few weeks.”

Robben, who said his father was ready to discuss a contract extension with Rummenigge, had another chance midway through the second half when Mainz ’keeper Jonas Lossl snapped the ball from his feet.

Mainz kept pushing hard for an equalizer that never arrived before Lewandowski sealed it with a brilliant free kick in injury time. It was the Poland striker’s 11th goal in 12 league games against Mainz, more than he’s scored against any other Bundesliga side.

Lewandowski became the first Bundesliga player to score two or more goals in four consecutive away games against a specific team.

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