James Rodriguez repaid boss Carlo Ancelotti’s faith with a goal and an assist in his first start for Bayern Munich as the Colombian helped the visitors crush Schalke 3-0 at VELTINS-Arena in the Bundesliga.
Robert Lewandowski opened the scoring with a penalty kick in the 25th minute, but it was Rodriguez’ goal and setup that sealed the three points that propelled Munich to the top of the German top flight table.
“He did well,” Ancelotti said of James after the match. “He had a good performance. He played with the team, for the team, together with others, with a good combination.”
It was James who paved the way for Lewandowski’s opener, as it was the former Real Madrid midfielder’s cross that Naldo blocked with his arm and prompted official Marco Fritz to award the penalty to Munich.
Lewandowski went to the spot and sent Ralf Farhmann the other way before firing to the bottom left corner of the goal.
Munich’s second goal of the night was more luck than hard work as Corentin Tolisso gave the ball to an unmarked James, who unfurled a low shot that found its way past the diving Farhmann to double the visitors’ lead.
The defending champions could have had more goals in the start of the second half but Thomas Mueller only hit the post with his header, and Leon Goretszka could have cut Munich’s lead but his shot just went inches wide of the goal.
Then James displayed creativity for the third goal of the night, when he sucked in three defenders with his threatening run before chipping the ball to an open Arturo Vidal, who sent the ball to the back of the net and sealed the victory for the champions.
Despite his impressive start, Ancelotti claims James is not in his perfect form.
“I still think he has to improve his physical donation because he is not 100 per cent, but what he did today was really good,” said Ancelotti.
Schalke are without a win in their last 14 home games against Munich, losing 11 and drawing three.
Lewandowski now has 157 goals in Bundesliga, tying him up with Stuttgart legend Fritz Walter for 13th in the all-time list.