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VIDEO: Bayern’s James Rodriguez scores difficult free-kick goal

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Bayern Munich has come out of its holiday break firing on all cylinders, and Bayer Leverkusen is paying the price.

With the German giants already up 2-1, James Rodriguez stopped any hope of a comeback with an incredibly difficult free-kick to restore the visitors’ two-goal lead at BayArena.

The free-kick was inches from the penalty area, and efforts from that close to net are always difficult to get on target, needing significant bend to get around the wall from close range but also pace to beat the goalkeeper. James had both, and it resulted in a stunning effort.

Jupp Heynckes – Bayern’s favorite fireman – is doing the job in his fourth stint with the club. After appointing the 72-year-old in early October, the club had won 10 of its 11 league games heading into the holiday break, and continued that streak on the other side of the hiatus holding on for an eventual 3-1 final.

The goal is the third of the season for the Colombian and his first since October 28th. He has received significantly more playing time under Heynckes than he did with Carlo Ancelotti in charge – Rodriguez had just three appearances (one start) and 107 minutes in the seven Bundesliga matches Ancelotti was manager for this season, but he has started eight of Bayern’s nine league matches since October 21st.

The win today over Leverkusen put Bayern fourteen points clear of Schalke at the top of the German top flight table heading into the weekend slate of games.

James stars for Bayern Munich in Bundesliga win at Schalke (video)

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BERLIN (AP) James Rodriguez starred on his first Bundesliga start for Bayern Munich, scoring one goal and playing a role in the others for a 3-0 win at Schalke on Tuesday.’

James, who switched from Real Madrid in the offseason, earned a penalty and then scored in the first half, before brilliantly setting up Arturo Vidal to wrap up the win in the second.

[ WATCH: Alex Morgan smashes USWNT goal ]

While the Colombian midfielder made his first league start for Bayern, American teenager Weston McKennie did likewise for the home team. Despite the efforts of the 19-year-old Texan midfielder – who covered more ground than any other player in the first half – Schalke had no answer to James’ individual brilliance.

“We created the goals very well, so we deserved to win,” said Bayern’s reserve goalkeeper Sven Ulreich, playing in place of Germany No. 1 Manuel Neuer. Neuer has been ruled out until January with another hairline fracture of the metatarsal in his left foot.

The home side was first to have the ball in the net, but Amine Harit’s goal was ruled out as Bastian Oczipka was offside. Ulreich had done well with two saves beforehand.

Bayern got the penalty after referee Marco Fritz consulted his video assistant to see if Naldo had handled the ball when James cut it back. The Brazilian defender was going to ground but had his arms raised when the ball struck.

Protests by Schalke players had no effect and Robert Lewandowski duly converted from the spot.

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It got worse for the home side four minutes later, when Bayern scored after a Schalke throw-in. Thomas Mueller, Lewandowski and Corentin Tolisso worked the ball to the unmarked James, who wrong-footed Ralf Faehrmann to score his first Bundesliga goal.

Mueller hit the post with a header from a cross by James after the break, before substitute Yevhen Konoplyanka went close at the other end.

Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco brought on Swiss forward Breel Embolo for McKennie with just over half an hour remaining.

Any hopes of an equalizer ended when James eluded two defenders and delivered a perfect ball for Vidal to strike with a volley to the top corner.

“Altogether there’s no denying that Bayern had a very good day. Then it’s hard for any team,” Schalke general manager Christian Heidel said.


Fin Bartels’ second-half header earned Werder Bremen a 1-1 draw at Wolfsburg and denied Martin Schmidt a winning start as coach. Schmidt was appointed Monday when Wolfsburg fired Andries Jonker after the team had claimed just four points in its opening four games.

Michael Gregoritsch’s fourth-minute strike was enough for Augsburg to beat visiting Leipzig 1-0 for its third win from five games.

Two goals from Brazilian midfielder Raffael gave Borussia Moenchengladbach a 2-0 win at home over promoted Stuttgart.

Bayern Munich agree to sign James Rodriguez on two-year loan

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James Rodriguez will sign for Bayern Munich on a two-year loan deal from Real Madrid.

[ MORE: Lukaku joins United for $96.5 million ]

The Colombian national team captain, 25, struggled to become a regular for Real over the past three seasons but the striker will now add extra firepower to Bayern’s attack under his former boss at Real Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti.

Despite being a bit-part player at the Santiago Bernabeu, James has won two UEFA Champions League titles, a La Liga and two Club World Cups during his time in Spain, plus he scored 36 goals and added 41 assists in 111 appearances since joining Real from Monaco in 2014.

With Chelsea, Manchester United and others said to be in for James over the summer, the South American star has decided to head to Germany with the Bundesliga giants now possessing a huge attacking threat as he will link up with Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller, Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben.

The two-year loan deal will run until June 30, 2019 and Bayern confirmed they will also have the option to buy James permanently. After having a medical in Munich he will fly out with the team this weekend for their 12-day tour of Singapore and China.

Speaking about the acquisition, Bayern’s chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge revealed James was Ancelotti’s “biggest wish” for this offseason.

“We’re delighted we’ve been able to complete this transfer. Signing James Rodriguez was our coach Carlo Ancelotti’s biggest wish, following their successful spell working together in Madrid,” Rummenigge said. “James is a very versatile player. He’s a goalscorer himself, he sets up a lot of goals and on top of that he’s great from set-pieces. There’s no question that this transfer further increases the quality in our team.”

That sigh you can hear is the rest of the Bundesliga, as Bayern look certain to win a sixth-straight German title this season.

Report: James Rodriguez wants next club sorted this week

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A sensational story from Spanish outlet AS says James Rodriguez wants to know where he’s headed and soon.

AS claims James wants out of Real Madrid and needs to know his destination without two days so he won’t have to go with the club on its tour of the United States.

Obviously that’s a bit overblown considering Real could just, you know, let him stay at home.

Manchester United, Chelsea, and Paris Saint-Germain are listed as clubs that could meet the $80 million asking price.

James turns 26 next week and would certainly fit what Antonio Conte wants to see from his Chelsea attack, and has a Porto connection with Jose Mourinho. As for PSG, James has seen success in Ligue 1 with Monaco.

Transfer rumor roundup: Chelsea chasing James Rodriguez and more

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The transfer news never stops as clubs look to retool ahead of the new season.

Here’s the latest reports and rumors on Sunday, which involve some very high-profile players from around Europe’s top clubs.

[ MORE: England earns first U-20 World Cup title in history after win over Venezuela ]

According to AS, Chelsea is in an ideal position to sign James Rodriguez this summer to replace Cesc Fabregas at Stamford Bridge.

Fabregas wasn’t a squad regular last season under Antonio Conte, despite the Spaniard’s great success when he did feature for the Blues. Last season, Fabregas scored five goals and added 12 assists in 29 appearances for the club (only 13 starts).

Marco Verratti’s time at PSG appears to be over.

L’Equipe is reporting that the midfielder has handed in his transfer request to leave Paris ahead of the 2017/18 season, citing the Italian’s desire to contend for a UEFA Champions League title. Bayern Munich, Juventus and Barcelona have been heavily linked to Verratti over recent weeks, although Barca appears the favorites to earn a signature from the Azzurri player.

The report states that Verratti could go for as much as $90 million if he does in fact leave France this summer.

Newly-signed Manchester United striker Alvaro Morata has reportedly asked Gareth Bale to join him at Old Trafford next season, according to Don Balon.

Riyad Mahrez is keen on a move to the Camp Nou, and now he is simply waiting on an offer from Barcelona.

Sport is reporting that the Algerian international wants out of Leicester after a massive drop off this season from winning the Premier League two seasons ago.