Schalke 04 0-3 Bayern Munich: James Rodríguez stars as champions cruise in Gelsenkirchen

A resilient Schalke performance was not enough to stop Carlo Ancelotti's side picking up a comfortable victory.

Schalke 04 0-3 Bayern Munich: James Rodríguez stars as champions cruise in Gelsenkirchen
James Rodríguez marked his first Bundesliga start with his first Bayern goal. | Photo: Getty/Alex Grimm.
Schalke 04
0 3
Bayern Munich
Schalke 04: (3-4-2-1) Fährmann; Kehrer, Naldo, Nastasic; Caligiuri, McKennie (Embolo 57’), Bentaleb, Oczipka; Goretzka, Harit (Konoplyanka 46’); Burgstaller (Di Santo 78’).
Bayern Munich: (4-2-3-1) Ulreich; Kimmich, Süle, Martínez (Hummels 76’), Rafinha; Rudy, Tolisso (Vidal 69’); Müller, Rodríguez, Coman; Lewandowski (Thiago 65‘).
SCORE: 0-1, Lewandowski 25’ (P). 0-2, Rodríguez 29’. 0-3, Vidal 75’.
REFEREE: Marco Fritz (Korb). Booked: Embolo (64’), Thiago (87’).
INCIDENTS: Bundesliga match at the Veltins-Arena, Gelsenkirchen. Attendance: 62,271.

Bayern Munich returned to the top of the Bundesliga, for 24 hours at least, with a professional display against Schalke 04.

Goals from Robert Lewandowski and James Rodríguez put them in command in the first half, and whilst Schalke never gave up hopes of a comeback, Arturo Vidal’s excellent third goal put the game to bed with quarter-of-an-hour remaining.

They leapfrog Borussia Dortmund and Hannover 96 in the table, although both play on Wednesday.

Lewandowski and James get Bayern going

Schalke were in positive mood after three wins in four games, although this was always going to be a tough test for them. Domenico Tedesco made two changes from their win against Werder Bremen, bringing in Weston McKennie and Nabil Bentelelb. Carlo Ancelotti made six changes to his side after the win against 1. FSV Mainz 05, handing starts to Sven Ulreich, Javi Martínez, Niklas Süle, Sebastian Rudy, Corentin Tolisso and Rodríguez, the latter’s first appearance from the beginning in the Bundesliga.

It didn’t take too long for Bayern to find their stride. Rudy came close to opening their account with a spectacular volley that was kept out by the ever-dependable Ralf Fährmann, whilst there were chances too for Lewandowski, Thomas Müller and Martínez.

Schalke had a couple of excellent chances too. Leon Goretzka, Bayern-bound at the end of the season according to some, had a shot saved by Ulreich after deflecting off Martínez, although handball appeals fell on deaf ears. An excellent attack then saw Guido Burgstaller eventually put the ball in the net after back-to-back saves from Ulreich, however Bastian Oczipka was offside in the build-up.

It was just their luck that they then immediately conceded a penalty at the other end. Marco Fritz initially ignored a handball from Naldo, however VAR confirmed that his upraised arms had blocked a Rodríguez cross, so a penalty was given. Robert Lewandowski scored what was already his tenth goal of the season from the spot as Fährmann went the wrong way.

Bayern soon scored a second from a Schalke throw. Müller quickly won possession off Nabil Benteleb, and the ball was quickly given to Rodríguez by Tolisso to put in his first goal for Bayern since his loan move from Real Madrid. The pressure was less intense from the champions after that, with Ulreich nearly costing his side a goal after spilling a Daniel Caligiuri cross. Martínez’s clearance then hit Joshua Kimmich, but he got it away from goal at the second attempt.

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Vidals finish the job with stunning goal

Bayern came close to making it three soon after the break. Rodríguez sought out Müller, who beat the Schalke offside trap to head the ball onto the post. A big chance missed by the man wearing the captain’s armband in the absence of Neuer, who is now confirmed to be out until the new year with a foot injury.

Tedesco tries to change things up by introducing Yevhen Konoplyanka at the break and later on Breel Embolo, and with Bayern sitting back they were making a good fight out of this game. Caligiuri managed to hit the side netting despite slipping as he shot, whilst Konoplyanka shot wide on the break. At the other end, Fährmann saved Kingsley Coman’s shot from the left side of the box.

Schalke remained the more proactive of the two teams and Burgstaller, who correctly had an earlier penalty appeal turned down after a tussle with Kimmich, found himself one-on-one with Ulreich, but the replacement goalkeeper stayed big to block his shot. Burgstaller would have expected better, and he even had another chance shortly after. Ulreich flipped his header away from goal, and the flag was up in any case.

Bayern weren’t being completely complacent though. Rodríguez was having a magnificent game and was involved in much of Bayern’s attacking play. Having already scored the second, he bagged an assist in wonderful fashion, playing a clever ball to substitute Vidal after neat footwork. The Chilean met it with a scrumptious volley, and that was the game for Bayern.