Bayern restarts with win to turn up heat on Dortmund

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              Munich players celebrate their side's second goal during a German Bundesliga soccer match between TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and Bayern Munich in Sinsheim, Germany, Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
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SINSHEIM, Germany (AP) — Bayern Munich got the Bundesliga back underway with a 3-1 win at Hoffenheim on Friday to deliver a statement of intent to leader Borussia Dortmund.

Robert Lewandowski sealed the victory late on to cut the gap on his former team to three points after 18 games. It was the defending champion’s sixth league win in succession, stabilizing the side after an early-season wobble.

“We’re the chasers and we want to hunt them,” Bayern coach Niko Kovac said. “We want to be champions.”

Leon Goretzka scored twice in the first half, the first from a rebound, then after a corner, as Bayern performed impressively in the league’s first match after a winter break of almost four weeks.

“It was really important to start the second half of the season well,” Goretzka said.

Hoffenheim, which had been dominated for much of the first half, pulled one back through Nico Schulz just before the hour.

Bayern captain Manuel Neuer then produced a brilliant save to deny Adam Szalai an equalizer with seven minutes remaining.

Lewandowski struck four minutes later with his 11th goal in the league this season, a simple finish after Thomas Mueller crossed from the right.

Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann said his side was too timid at the start and acknowledged Bayern’s win was “fully deserved.”

Canadian teen Alphonso Davies, who completed his $22 million transfer from the Vancouver Whitecaps this month, remained on the bench for Bayern and must wait for his league debut.

Dortmund visits Leipzig on Saturday.