Bayern tops Hoffenheim 3-1 to pull within a game of the top

Associated Press
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Bayern Munich put the pressure on Borussia Dortmund on the top of the Bundesliga table with a 3-1 road victory at Hoffenheim on Friday behind two goals from Leon Goretzka.

The midfielder took his tally to four goals on the season with the brace, striking just past the half-hour mark on a deflected near-post strike and following that up with a goal just seconds before the break, finishing off a ruthless counter-attack.

Goretzka, who arrived from Schalke this past offseason on a free transfer, has been a vital part of the Bayern midfield, appearing in 15 of their 18 Bundesliga matches and starting 12. The pair of goals are his first since late October in the win over Mainz.

Bayern dominated the match for long stretches of play, and while Goretzka’s opener came via a heavy deflection that left Oliver Baumann’s near post disappointingly unguarded, it would be unfair to say Bayern didn’t deserve the lead, owning a 13-1 shot advantage at the time. Even Goretzka’s deflected effort came off the rebound of Robert Lewandowski’s powerful header that required a stellar Baumann save to parry.

Goretzka’s second was a vicious and swift counter-attack that left Hoffenheim picking up the pieces. Off a Hoffenheim corner, Bayern took the ball and broke down the left and David Alaba delivered a fabulous cross that Goretzka just reached with an outstretched foot to poke home.

While Hoffenheim scored on a counter of its own, Bayern killed off the game with a third deep into the second half as Lewandowski got behind defender Benjamin Hubner and poked home Thomas Muller’s cross. It all came from a wonderful flick over the top by James Rodriguez who returned from a knee injury to play his first 11 minutes since early November.

The win pushes Bayern within three points of leaders Borussia Dortmund who have a tough road visit to RB Leipzig. That match features Americans Tyler Adams and Christian Pulisic on opposite sides as fourth hosts first in a critical Bundesliga meeting.