Jupp Heynckes

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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.

Heynckes not managing Bayern Munich after the season

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MOENCHENGLADBACH, Germany (AP) Jupp Heynckes has ruled out extending his fourth stint in charge of Bayern Munich beyond this season.

Club president Uli Hoeness said on Friday it was “possible” the coach could stay, but Heynckes squashed that on Saturday.

“I don’t know what prompted Uli to say that,” Heynckes told Sky Sport TV.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup | Sunday preview ]

“We have a very clear agreement that the work goes on until June 30, 2018. What other people say, whether players or officials, that I should keep going – I don’t want to comment on it every week because it’s a clear agreement and that’s how it’ll stay. Nothing will shake that.”

Heynckes returned to the club this season after Carlo Ancelotti was sacked.

He endured his first loss in 10 games when Bayern fell at Borussia Moenchengladbach 2-1 in the Bundesliga.

“We invested far too little, played too slow and never really got into a rhythm,” Heynckes said. “`Gladbach relied on counterattacks and played a clever tactical game.”

Bayern’s lead was cut to three points by second-placed Leipzig, which won at home over Werder Bremen 2-0. Heynckes’ team is five points ahead of Schalke.

Bundesliga: Bayern running away (again) after slow start

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BERLIN (AP) Robert Lewandowski scored twice to help Bayern Munich stretch its lead in the Bundesliga to six points with a 3-0 defeat of Bavarian rival Augsburg on Saturday.

It was the 500th league win for Jupp Heynckes as a player or coach and extends the 72-year-old’s winning start to eight games across all competitions since he returned for his fourth stint.

“That’s a surprise for me. I don’t bother with statistics and numbers,” Heynckes said on being told about his winning landmark. “But it’s an impressive number (500). I had a long career as a player, and now as a coach. It wasn’t planned.”

Heynckes was coaxed out of retirement to take over from the fired Carlo Ancelotti on Oct. 5. Bayern was trailing then-leader Borussia Dortmund by five points at the time. Now the side is nine points ahead of Dortmund, which hasn’t won in the league since Sept. 30, and six ahead of Leipzig, held to a draw at Bayer Leverkusen.

Bayern midfielder Arturo Vidal broke the deadlock after half an hour, swiveling to fire home the rebound from a difficult angle after Mats Hummels’s effort was blocked and the ball ricocheted off Niklas Suele.

Vidal turned provider seven minutes later, playing Lewandowski through on a counterattack to shoot past Marwin Hitz.

The Poland striker claimed his league-leading 13th goal of the season early in the second half with a perfectly struck volley to Joshua Kimmich’s precise long cross from the right.

Vidal headed against the crossbar just afterward before Bayern conserved energy for Wednesday’s Champions League game at Anderlecht.

The win stretched the side’s unbeaten record to 28 games at home.

Winless Cologne’s terrible start to the league continued with its 10th defeat in 12 games, while the discussion over video assistance in the league will continue after two mistakes by referee Felix Brych.

Daniel Brosinski’s penalty before the break was enough for a 1-0 win for Mainz against Cologne, but how it came about will ensure the controversy over video assistance goes on.

Brych pointed to the spot when Pablo De Blasis fell under Frederik Sorensen’s challenge. He then consulted the video assistant, who had the benefit of studying replays in Cologne, and stood by the decision – despite television showing that Sorensen made hardly any contact with the Mainz player.

Brych later sent off Mainz’s Giulio Donati for what he perceived as striking Leon Bittencourt after a tussle between the two. However, Bittencourt’s foot struck Donati in the face beforehand. Donati, who was lying on the pitch clutching his face, brushed the Cologne player away when he went to lift him up.

Following controversial decisions in previous games, the German soccer federation said video assistants were only to step in when there was “a clear wrong decision.”

Ten-man Leverkusen came from behind to salvage a 2-2 draw at home against second-place Leipzig.

Timo Werner’s early penalty put the visitors in front before Leon Bailey equalized before the break.

The home side’s hopes took a blow when Benjamin Henrichs was sent off for handball on the line and Emil Forsberg scored the resulting penalty, but Kevin Volland equalized again with a quarter-hour remaining.

Wolfsburg defeated Freiburg 3-1 at home to give coach Martin Schmidt his first win after he started with seven draws.

On loan from Bayern, Serge Gnabry did brilliantly to set up Mark Uth for Hoffenheim’s injury-time equalizer in a 1-1 draw with visiting Eintracht Frankfurt.

Heynckes says dog helped him decide to return to Bayern

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MUNICH (AP) The dog did it.

Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes said Monday he was persuaded to return to the club for a fourth stint in charge after speaking to his family, and his dog.

“It’s been a difficult time, but my wife and my daughter said I should do it,” the 72-year-old Heynckes said at his presentation. “My dog also barked twice, so that meant I should do it.”

[ MORE: USMNT scenarios for final day of WCQ ]

Heynckes retired after guiding Bayern to the Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup treble in 2013, but he has returned to take over from Carlo Ancelotti after Bayern’s poor start to the season.

Bayern is already five points behind Borussia Dortmund after seven matches. Ancelotti was fired a day after the team’s 3-0 loss at Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

“Despite this difficult phase, I am confident that the team will quickly show a different side,” Heynckes said.

Heynckes paid tribute to his predecessor as a “very good coach and a real gentleman.” He said he had nothing but respect for him and was very impressed when he met him in Madrid a few years ago.

Heynckes said there had been a clear hierarchy at the club under former players like Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm.

“These players sorted a lot of important things in the changing room. We need that again to give the other players more confidence. Success is the most important thing. From a sporting point of view, many things must be changed and improved,” Heynckes said.

“It’s no secret that Thomas Mueller isn’t playing to his full potential, or that Jerome Boateng has struggled after a series of bad injuries. I know what I have to do. I need to sit down and speak to the players, and re-instill that feeling of togetherness. I have a clear plan.”

Bayern now faces seven games in three weeks following the international break, including league and cup games against Leipzig, two games against Celtic in the Champions League, and a match in Dortmund on Nov. 4.

Heynckes said it will be tough to catch Dortmund following the team’s great start to the season, but “there’s no point talking about our objectives just yet. I need to restore the players’ confidence in themselves.”

Bayern offers managerial stint to old friend Heynckes

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Bayern Munich is hoping for help from an old friend to stabilize its hopes of a 27th German championship. (again)

The five-time reigning champions recently parted ways with Carlo Ancelotti, giving Willy Sagnol the keys on an interim basis.

[ MORE: Top talents at U-17 World Cup ]

Sky Sports reports that Jupp Heynckes says he’s been offered the job for the remainder of the season.

“It’s not clear yet or signed,” he told German site RPonline, “I have to analyse the whole thing first. Four and a half years have passed since I left Bavaria, and football has changed.”

[ MORE: USMNT-Panama preview ]

The 72-year-old has led the club on three occasions, in stints ranging from 35 days to four-plus seasons. Heynckes possesses a Champions League title and three Bundesliga crowns with Bayern, and also won the 1997-98 UCL with Real Madrid.

Should he accept the gig, Heynckes will become the first manager to manage Bayern on four separate occasions.