James Rodriguez shone for Bayern Munich with a goal, then won a penalty, as the German champions made it four wins from their first four Bundesliga games with a 2-0 victory at Schalke to stay top yesterday.
Rodriguez struck with just eight minutes gone at Gelsenkirchen’s Veltins Arena, expertly slipping his marker, former Bayern teammate Sebastian Rudy, to power home a header from Josh Kimmich’s cross.
It was a sublime effort which took the wind out of Schalke’s sails as they ended up suffering a fourth consecutive league defeat while Bayern are the only team in Germany’s top tier with a 100 percent record.
The 27-year-old Colombian superstar, making his first league start this season, should have scored his second when he squandered a golden chance five minutes after the break.
When Bayern’s veteran winger Franck Ribery sliced through Schalke’s defence and squared with goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann beaten, but Rodriguez slumped to the turf, head in hands, after firing wide with the goal at his mercy.
Nevertheless, Rodriguez effectively settled the matter when he won a penalty on 63 minutes after a foul in the area by Alessandro Schoepf.
Bayern’s star striker Robert Lewandowski stepped up, making no mistake and smashed home the resulting spot-kick to make it 2-0.
Schalke had little to offer and only a superb save from Faehrmann denied a long-range free-kick from David Alaba, which curled wickedly 12 minutes from time.
Earlier, second-placed Hertha Berlin, who host Bayern next Friday, had temporarily claimed top spot as captain Vedad Ibisevic scored twice in a 4-2 home win over Borussia Moenchengladbach.
After Gladbach’s Belgium midfielder Thorgan Hazard netted a 29th-minute penalty — his seventh goal in ten games against Hertha — Berlin roared back.
Ibisevic headed his first goal a minute after Hazard had struck, before Austria midfielder Valentino Lazaro scored with another header on 34 minutes to make it 2-1 at the break.
Ibisevic slotted home Berlin’s third goal mid-way through the second half.
New signing Alassane Plea gave Gladbach hope with 23 minutes to go before Ondrej Duda scored Hertha’s fourth by tapping home a great cross from Dutch winger Javairo Dilrosun.
US international Christian Pulisic again rescued Borussia Dortmund, who had French defender Abdou Diallo sent off 15 minutes from time, with a late goal to equalise in a 1-1 draw at Hoffenheim.
“After the red card, many thought that it was over, but we came back. We can be happy with the result, we know that,” said Dortmund coach Lucien Favre, whose side are now third.
Hoffenheim took the lead just before the break when their Brazilian forward Joelinton pounced on a mistake by Dortmund defender Abdou Diallo.
Dortmund were only saved when the video assistant referee spotting a marginal offside, when Ermin Bicakcic headed into the net five minutes after the break, to deny Hoffenheim a second goal.
Frenchman Diallo capped a bad day at the office when he was sent off on 76 minutes for bringing down Andrej Kramaric, who was through on goal.
Having marked his 20th birthday with the winner at Brugge on Tuesday in the Champions League, Pulisic again rescued Dortmund by equalising six minutes from time, converting a Marco Reus cross.
Elsewhere, Everton misfit Davy Klaassen scored his second goal in as many Bundesliga games in Werder Bremen’s 3-2 win over Augsburg.
The Dutch playmaker, who cost Bremen 14mn euros ($16.3mn) from Everton in July, profited 15 minutes from time after Augsburg goalkeeper let the ball roll through his legs from a cross and Klaassen tapped home the winner.
Korean midfielder Koo Ja-Cheol and Philipp Max had pulled Augsburg level after Max Kruse and Maximilian Eggestein had put Werder 2-0 with early goals.
An Anton Waldemar own goal and a late second from Toerles Knoell sealed Nuremberg’s 2-0 win at Hanover 96.
Germany striker Nils Petersen scored at the second attempt, heading home a parried first-half penalty, as Freiburg sealed a 3-1 win at Wolfsburg, who suffered their first loss of the season.
Hoffenheim 1 (Joelinton 44) Dortmund 1 (Pulisic 84)
Hertha Berlin 4 (Ibisevic 31, 63, Lazaro 34, Duda 73) Borussia Moenchengladbach 2 (Hazard 29-pen, Plea 67)
Augsburg 2 (Max 47, Koo Ja-cheol 45+3) Werder Bremen 3 (Kruse 34, Eggestein 36, Klaassen 75)
VfL Wolfsburg 1 (Mehmedi 61) Freiburg 3 (Sallai 7, Petersen 21, Frantz 50)
Nuremberg 2 (Waldemar 76-og, Knoell 77) Hanover 0
Schalke 0 Bayern Munich 2 (James 8, Lewandowski 64-pen)
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