Football

Heynckes shows his golden touch

Bavarian giants have turned five-point deficit into four-point lead since veteran coach took over

Jupp Heynckes praised his Bayern Munich stars as well as the club's hard-pressed doctors for turning a five-point deficit into a four-point lead over their Bundesliga rivals following a 3-1 win at Borussia Dortmund yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Arjen Robben, Robert Lewandowski and David Alaba netted the goals as Heynckes' magic touch worked again, four weeks after Carlo Ancelotti was sacked.

Under the 72-year-old Heynckes, who steered Bayern to the 2013 Treble, the Munich giants have won all seven games in the Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup.

They now lead second-placed RB Leipzig by four points and are six ahead of third-placed Dortmund.

"We shouldn't get carried away. It was impossible to predict four weeks ago that we would now be six points ahead of Dortmund and four ahead of Leipzig," said Heynckes.

"We have worked outstandingly on the training field and in meetings over the last 4½ weeks.

"I also have to compliment our medical department. The doctors and the physios also worked day and night because the players have been heavily burdened with a lot of matches."

None more so than striker Robert Lewandowski, who missed last Tuesday's Champions League win at Celtic with a thigh strain, yet dazzled at his ex-club Dortmund.

A superb curling strike from Robben put Bayern ahead on 17 minutes before Lewandowski's audacious backheel made it 2-0 eight minutes before the break.

"It was a very attack-minded game, both teams had lots of chances, but we scored three goals," said Lewandowski.

"That was an important win, we showed that we are in good shape."

Alaba put the game beyond Dortmund midway through the second half as his cross found the net after the ball glanced off Lewandowski.

"I touched the ball lightly," insisted Lewandowski. "Whether it's my goal or not, that does not matter."

Defender Marc Bartra, who was injured in April's bomb attack on the Dortmund team bus, scored the hosts' consolation goal two minutes from time.

The second goal credited to Lewandowski was his 11th in the league in as many games this season. He is currently the Bundesliga's top scorer.

Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, last season's top scorer just ahead of Lewandowski, has now failed to score in his last five games, although he still has 10 for the season.

Dortmund have now won just one of their last seven games in all competitions, a miserable run which leaves them also facing a group-stage exit from the Champions League, where they have just two points from four games.

"We did not play like a top team," admitted Dortmund coach Peter Bosz. "Bayern Munich were better in all areas in the first half. We just chased after them and were always too late, so you can't talk about us being a top team.

"We decided to play very compact, but that did not work in the first half. In the second half, we showed that we can, once each player got closer to their man, it was a real game."

Bosz, who replaced the sacked Thomas Tuchel for this season, is starting to look - and sound like a man on borrowed time.

Meanwhile, Bayern president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has ended their interest in Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez, insisting that the Chilean forward has already chosen his destination.

Sanchez, whose contract runs out at the end of the season, had been linked with clubs like Manchester City.

"I think Sanchez has already decided which club (to join), so I suppose that the door will be closed in January," Rummenigge said.

"That's not an issue, and he is no direct substitute for Robert Lewandowski as he is not a real centre forward." - WIRE SERVICES

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