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.
After just two weeks, there will be a maximum of three perfect clubs in the Bundesliga.
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If Hertha Berlin cannot win at Schalke, a decent ask, then two will be the number. Here’s how the second weekend has gone in Germany’s top flight.
Bayer Leverkusen 1-3 Wolfsburg
Level at one after the break, Wolfsburg got a wonderful three points away from home when Wout Weghorst and Renato Steffen scored twice in five second-half minutes.
No Wolfsburg player touched the ball as often as USMNT center back John Brooks’ 64 (Bayer Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz bettered him by three). He completed 37 of 41 passes, winning eight tackles to help Wolfsburg to a 2-0 start.
It wasn’t all glory for Brooks, who had a close-up view as Jamaica-born Leon Bailey put Bayer ahead early with a very nice goal.
Eintracht Frankfurt 1-2 Werder Bremen
Werder Bremen led on a 20th minute goal from Yuya Osako when Jetro Willems took a red card for the hosts, but that didn’t stop Eintracht from finding an equalizer.
Sebastien Haller scored from the spot in the 54th minute, but the visitors were not to be denied. Milot Rashica scored in the sixth minute of stoppage to send Werder Bremen home with four points on the young season
Stuttgart 0-3 Bayern Munich
Leon Goretzka scored his first Bayern goal early in this one, and played provider as Robert Lewandowski insured the lead in the second half. Thomas Muller also scored in the win, with Lewandowski assisting the marker.
Hannover 96 0-0 Borussia Dortmund — Friday
Augsburg 1-1 Borussia Monchengladbach
Hoffenheim 3-1 Freiburg
Nurnberg 1-1 Mainz
RB Leipzig vs. Fortuna Dusseldorf — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Schalke vs. Hertha Berlin — Noon ET Sunday
MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich signed Germany midfielder Leon Goretzka on Friday on a free transfer from Bundesliga rival Schalke effective from next season.
Bayern said the 22-year-old Goretzka signed a four-year deal from July 1 through June 2022.
Schalke, which Goretzka joined in 2013 from hometown club Bochum, said the player informed the club this week of his wish to join Bayern when his contract expired.
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“We think we did everything in the last months to convince Leon to stay with us,” Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel said. “In the end, it wasn’t enough.”
Schalke had long been engaged in trying to get Goretzka to extend his contract, but was aware of reported interest from Bayern, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Liverpool.
“We’re very happy that Leon Goretzka, a German international with big potential, has decided in favor of Bayern despite big-name international competitors. This way it’s ensured that Leon Goretzka remains in the Bundesliga,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.
Goretzka scored 19 goals and set up 13 more in 130 appearances for Schalke.
The club had previously expressed its displeasure with Bayern making public statements about its player after Goretzka was praised by sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic and coach Jupp Heynckes.
Heidel said “we don’t need to hear every day from the Munich people how good our player is.”
Goretzka has six goals in 12 games for Germany.
Schalke star Leon Goretzka has said he’ll decide on his future this month, and Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge expects to know what the 22-year-old will do within the next few days.
Rummenigge says Goretzka is a person of interest for Bayern but admitted that there’s no contract in place between the club and player.
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“Now it is up to the player to decide, and it would be nice if he chose Bayern in the end. You only have an agreement when you sign the contract,” he said, according to The Liverpool Echo.
“All top clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United or Juventus wanted him, so it is perfectly legal and normal that the top club from Germany is interested in this player, too. The decision will be taken in a few days.”
Reports late last month had a Goretzka to Bayern move all but complete, and Schalke was displeased earlier this month at its Bundesliga rivals’ open praise for the player.
Goretzka posted four goals in 11 appearances during an injury-hit first half of the season, and has not played 90 minutes since Oct. 20. He won a silver medal with Germany at the 2016 Olympics and the Confederations Cup this past summer.
He’s been linked with Liverpool, too, and the Reds do have a new opening for an attacker. Could the Reds convince Schalke to take a fee for their soon-to-be free young star?
GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel has criticized league rival Bayern Munich for making public comments in praise of Schalke midfielder Leon Goretzka.
Heidel is annoyed with Bayern counterpart Hasan Salihamidzic in particular for saying on Wednesday that “it’s clear that Leon Goretzka is a really good player. He is a Schalke player and of course we respect that. He is a German national team player, and we can also say that we are interested.”
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Goretzka’s contract at Schalke is up at the end of the season, when Bayern would be able to sign him without a transfer fee. He is reportedly yet to decide whether to stay or leave the club he joined in 2013 from Bochum.
Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes had already praised the 22-year-old Goretzka in the previous days for his “brilliant development.”
Heidel says Salihamidzic’s comments were “unnecessary” and “we don’t need to hear every day from the Munich people how good our player is.”
Heidel says Goretzka should take his time in making a decision but “the issue will need to be settled soon.”