Bayern Munich returned from the two-week Christmas break looking rusty before fighting back from two goals down to beat second-from-bottom Mainz 5-2 in a rip-roaring Bundesliga contest on Sunday.
The result left Bayern on 33 points from 14 games at the top of the league, two more than second-placed RB Leipzig who won 1-0 at VfB Stuttgart on Saturday.
Bayern midfielder Joshua Kimmich, who sparked the home side’s comeback with their first goal, conceded that last season’s Champions League winners had been below par in the first half when they missed a string of chances.
“We came out in the second half with a completely different attitude, but we were still fortunate that Mainz didn’t score a third goal,” he told Germany’s Sky television.
Mainz striker Jonathan Burkardt, who scored the opening goal, said: “We played with newly-found aggression and that’s something to build on despite the fact that we ended up conceding five goals.”
The German titleholders were trailing 2-0 at halftime before they woke up with their run of goals, including a brace by Robert Lewandowski which took his tally to 22 goals in all competitions.
Burkardt had fired Mainz ahead against the run of play in the 32nd minute with a superb finish from 15m after shaking off Jerome Boateng. Alexander Hack made it 2-0 12 minutes later with a thumping header from Daniel Brosinski’s cross.
Danny Latza missed a gilt-edged chance to add a third for Mainz shortly after the break when his shot was pushed on to the post by Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and the visitors were swiftly punished as the home side hit top gear.
Kimmich pulled one back in the 50th minute with a close-range header after Lewandowski nodded a Serge Gnabry cross into his path, before Leroy Sane equalised five minutes later with a scorcher from 20m into the bottom right corner.
The visitors again came agonisingly close to stunning Bayern when Robin Quaison rattled the underside of the bar with a long-range thunderbolt but once again ruthless Bayern took advantage instantly.
Halftime substitute Niklas Suele turned the tide when he volleyed home from inside the area through a forest of bodies before Lewandowski forced Mainz into submission.
The winner of the 2020 Fifa Best Player award converted a penalty after Leandro Barreiro had brought down Gnabry with a late tackle and then bundled in a Thomas Mueller cross as Mainz collapsed in the final 20 minutes.
Earlier on Sunday, Borussia Dortmund broke back into the top four after goals from Manuel Akanji and England forward Jadon Sancho gave them a 2-0 home win over sixth-placed Wolfsburg.