Bayern Munich boss Jupp Heynckes hailed his players’ mental strength after they bounced back from their Champions League disappointment with a 3-1 win at relegated Cologne.
The Bundesliga champions missed out on a place in the Champions League final after drawing 2-2 with Real Madrid in midweek and looked like suffering further disappointment when Niklas Sule put through his own net after 36 minutes to give the hosts a surprise half-time lead.
However, the visitors fought back at the RheinEnergieStadion with two goals in as many minutes in the second half to make it six league wins on the spin.
Thomas Muller assisted both strikes, teeing up James Rodriguez after 59 minutes and then squaring for Robert Lewandowski in the 61st minute, with Corentin Tolisso adding a late third.
“After the intense game on Tuesday, it was not easy to switch back to Bundesliga mode, Heynckes said in quotes reeported on the club’s official website.
“Cologne did well and made life difficult for us.
“In the second half we acted very differently. We have dictated the game, scoring and exploiting our opportunities.
“It was important that we win the game and build our confidence.”
Heynckes, who will be replaced by Niko Kovac at the end of the season, has targeted a domestic double as the target for the rest of the campaign, with his side facing Kovac’s Eintracht Frankfurt in the DFB-Pokal final.
“We have one more important goal and that is the cup final,” he added.
Cologne, whose fate was sealed when they conceded a last-minute winner against Freiburg last week, posed a constant threat in the first half and went ahead when Sule turned a cross from the right into his own net.
The visitors finally levelled just before the hour mark, Muller heading the ball back across goal for Rodriguez to convert at the back post.
Muller was again the architect as he set up Lewandowski and the Poland striker rifled a low shot past horn two minutes later.
Tolisso completed the scoring when he headed home Colombia forward Rodriguez’s cross with 12 minutes remaining.
The 39-year-old Cologne substitute Claudio Pizarro twice went close to scoring a consolation against his former club in stoppage time, but was off target after a mazy run and then denied by Sven Ulreich.
Cologne boss Stefan Ruthenbeck praised his side’s efforts.
“In the first half I have seen a really good performance from my team,” he said. “We had a lot of ball possession and created good chances.
“After going 3-1 down the boys fought back. It’s a pity that Pizarro’s effort hasn’t gone in. The boys tried everything.”
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