Bayern Munich impress boss Niko Kovac as Bayer Leverkusen problems mount

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Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac hailed his side’s performance as they warmed up for their Champions League opener at Benfica with a 3-1 home win over Bayer Leverkusen.

Bayern have seven matches in 22 days in all competitions and Kovac shuffled his pack ahead of their hectic schedule.

Serge Gnabry made his first start for the club, while Germany internationals Leon Goretzka (ankle) and Mats Hummels (hip) were rested as a precaution before the midweek clash, with David Alaba and Franck Ribery dropped to the bench.

The hosts found themselves behind after just five minutes following Wendell’s early spot-kick for the visitors, who had Karim Bellarabi dismissed late on.

Goals from Corentin Tolisso, Arjen Robben and James Rodriguez turned the match around to earn Bayern a third straight league win, to the delight of Kovac.

He told “I’d like to congratulate my team on the way they played over 90 minutes. We cancelled out an early goal very quickly, then we dominated the game.

“Our counter-pressing was very good, we didn’t let Leverkusen’s quick players get a grip, so we stifled many things up front.

“I wish we had made it 3-1 a bit earlier and not only shortly before the final whistle. But I’m satisfied with the team performance.”

However, the victory came at a cost for Bayern as World Cup winner Tolisso went off with a serious-looking knee injury in the first half, while Rafinha had to be carried off after Bellarabi was sent off for a stamp on the Brazilian full-back.

Leverkusen boss Heiko Herrlich admitted his side were second-best against Bayern and that his players are void of confidence after three successive league defeats, which leave them at the foot of the Bundesliga.

Herrlich said in a post-match press conference, posted on the club’s official Twitter account: “The win for Bayern is deserved. I’d hoped that our lead would give us a lot of confidence and that we’d continue playing as we started. Then we conceded two goals, two gifts through individual errors.

“Going down so quickly caused the guys to lose their confidence. After winning possession, we gave it back way too quickly and we couldn’t free ourselves at all.

“You could see every player at Bayern has incredible quality, and not only in attack. They’re very venomous when they lose the ball, they counter-press immediately and go for every one-on-one. They gave us a lesson to some extent today.

“We’ll concentrate on our next match now. We’re in a difficult situation. The guys are not blessed with much confidence at the moment. We have to see how we can come back to playing freely again.”

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