Bundesliga top scorer Robert Lewandowski grabbed his 15th goal of the season to help nervous Bayern Munich beat bottom club Cologne 1-0 on Wednesday and go nine points clear at the top of the Bundesliga.
On the day when winger Franck Ribery became Bayern's leading foreign player with his 366th appearance in all competitions, the German champions struggled to hit top form but still did enough to climb to 38 points.
They are nine ahead of Schalke 04, who beat Augsburg 3-2 and stretched their unbeaten run to 10 league games.
In a completely one-sided first half the Bavarians had several good chances with Thomas Mueller and Lewandowski, but struggled with their finish.
The Poland forward finally broke the deadlock on the hour when Mueller headed on a Jerome Boateng chip and Lewandowski volleyed in from close range.
Defender Boateng then delivered another perfect cross for Kingsley Coman but the Frenchman's header bounced off the crossbar as the Bavarians remained nervous, allowing Cologne some late chances.
Schalke squandered a two-goal lead but managed to beat Augsburg courtesy of Daniel Caligiuri's penalty to go second on 29, a point ahead of RB Leipzig, who dropped to third following Tuesday's 1-1 draw at VfL Wolfsburg.
Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery returned to training on Wednesday following a six-week injury break due to a knee injury.
The 34-year-old Frenchman, at Bayern since 2007, is desperate to return to action as he battles for a contract extension at the end of the season.
Ribery tore the lateral collateral ligament in his left knee in the German champions' 2-2 draw at Hertha Berlin on Oct. 1.
"Playing on Saturday against Augsburg is a bit early for him," the club said in a statement.
Spaniard Juan Bernat, however, who has yet to play this season after being injured during the pre-season, sounded confident of a possible return on Saturday.
"Maybe I can be part of the team at the next game," Bernat said. "I am feeling good."
Bundesliga leaders Bayern are four points clear of RB Leipzig and six points ahead of Borussia Dortmund.
Champions Bayern Munich wasted a two-goal lead for the second straight week to draw 2-2 at Hertha Berlin on Sunday in interim coach Willy Sagnol's debut following the midweek sacking of Carlo Ancelotti.
Goals from Mats Hummels in the 12th minute and Robert Lewandowski after the break looked set to get the Bavarians back on track after last week's 2-2 draw against VfL Wolfsburg and their 3-0 rout by Paris St Germain in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Yet Hertha needed just five minutes in the second half to level with goals from Ondrej Duda after a sensational solo from Genki Haraguchi, and Salomon Kalou.
The Berliners had little trouble getting through Bayern's struggling backline that has already conceded seven goals this season, as many goals as 17th-placed Werder Bremen.
The result left Bayern, who sacked Ancelotti a day after their crushing loss in Paris, provisionally in second place on 14 points, five off leaders Borussia Dortmund who beat Augsburg 2-1 on Saturday.
Hoffenheim are level on 14 points, behind Bayern on goal difference, after losing 3-2 at Freiburg on Sunday to end their unbeaten run this season.
Carlo Ancelotti has been sacked following Bayern Munich’s humiliating 3-0 loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
Bayern looked a shadow of the team that have dominated German football and consistently challenged for the Champions League as they were taken apart by PSG.
It did not help Ancelotti’s cause that he controversially benched senior players Mats Hummels, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery.
Multiple reports – including the well-sourced Bild – indicated that Bayern had decided to sack Ancelotti after holding crisis talks following their return to the German captial
And the news was confirmed shortly afterwards by the club, who said the decision came after "internal analysis" of the defeat to PSG.
A statement read:
" Following an internal analysis in Munich on Thursday 28 September 2017, FC Bayern München have announced the club is to part company with head coach Carlo Ancelotti with immediate effect. Assistant coach Willy Sagnol will take charge of the team on an interim basis."
'Carlo is my friend and will remain so...'
Rummenigge also added in a statement: "Our team’s performances since the start of the season have not met our expectations. The match in Paris clearly showed we had to take immediate action. [Sporting Director] Hasan Salihamidžić and I met Carlo today for full and frank discussions where we informed him of our decision.
"I'd like to thank Carlo for his time working with us and I'm sorry about the way it has developed. Carlo is my friend and he will remain so, but we had to take a professional decision in the interests of FC Bayern. I expect the team to produce a positive response and show absolute determination to achieve our targets for the season."
'A very bitter defeat'
Chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge spoke after the PSG defeat and said, ominously:
" It was a very bitter defeat. A defeat which must be talked about, which must be analyzed, and from which we must draw consequences. I think what we saw tonight wasn't Bayern Munich. It's important that we turn the tide quickly and present ourselves as Bayern Munich. And then also to show that we're a team that has made a splash in Europe and nationally over the last years, and to return to that."
Bayern chairman Uli Hoeness was thought to have wanted Ancelotti gone, but until recently, Rummenigge had been supportive of the Italian, who was appointed in the summer of 2016 to replace Pep Guardiola.
The result meant Bayern are level with Celtic on three points from two matches in Group B, three points behind leaders PSG, while Bayern are currently third in the Bundesliga having dropped points twice already in six games
Robben was offered the chance to back Ancelotti after the PSG defeat, but declined. Asked if he stood behind his coach, he said: "I won't answer this question."
Ancelotti's assistant Willy Sagnol takes over on an interim basis for now, but Sportbild says that Thomas Tuchel, unemployed after being sacked as Borussia Dortmund manager last season, will be a contender for the full-time job as Rummenigge is known to be an admirer.
However, Hoffenheim's 30-year-old boss Julian Nagelsmann will also surely be part of the conversation, having masterminded Bayern's only Bundesliga defeat of the season and recently admitted in an interview with Eurosport that he would want the job.
Arjen Robben has warned big-spending Paris St Germain their money ``does not score goals'' ahead of their Champions League tie with Bayern Munich.
The new-look Parisians this summer made Neymar the world's most expensive player for a 222 million euro (£200.6million) fee, while on-loan strike partner Kylian Mbappe is expected to command around £166million if PSG take up their option to buy him outright from Monaco next year.
Those deals are a sign of PSG's intent to seriously contend for European football's biggest prize, a trophy Bayern have won on five occasions.
Robben scored in the final of the most recent one of those triumphs in 2013 and the Dutchman has reminded PSG that even with their riches, they still need to produce on the pitch.
``Paris have already spent a few more euros than we have, but money does not score goals,'' he told kicker. ``Quality on the pitch scores goals - good teams score goals.''
PSG crushed Celtic 5-0 in their opening Champions League group-stage encounter and Saturday's draw at Montpellier was the first time they failed to win all season.
Neymar was absent that night, though he is back in the squad for Wednesday night, and Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has pinpointed the danger of PSG's attacking triumvirate of Neymar, Mbappe and Edinson Cavani.
We're respectful of PSG, especially their attack; they have three world-class players up front,'' Rummenigge admitted on Bayern's official website. ``However, we have more experience in the Champions League.''
By prising away one of Barcelona's top players in Neymar and landing another of the world's hottest young properties in Mbappe, PSG began this Champions League campaign among the favourites to go all the way.
Manager Unai Emery believes his team now deserve to be considered among the continent's elite, even if they have made themselves somewhat unpopular in elevating themselves to such a position.
``When I was in Spain, I watched Europe's big clubs like Real, Barcelona, Bayern, Juventus and Manchester (United), with all the best players in the world,'' Emery told a press conference.
``There are five or six teams that can buy the best players in the world. Our team has taken an important step towards competing with the best teams.
``Today, we have more enemies, because they see that we have a serious team and that our transfer activity put us a step closer to being in the mix to win the Champions League.
``It's not a demand, it's a process. That's why people are talking about us a lot more now. Right now people are talking about Paris St Germain because we are among the best teams in the world.''
A late header from substitute Daniel Didavi and a big mistake from Sven Ulreich saw Wolfsburg come from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena on Friday evening.
Bayern took the lead thanks to a penalty from Robert Lewandowski after he was felled in the box.
The Wolfsburg players felt it was soft but referee Christian Dingert elected not to use VAR to review his decision.
Arjen Robben doubled Bayern's lead with an effort from the edge of the area that deflected in off team-mate Rafinha.
Wolfsburg didn't offer much until Max Arnold's free-kick was let in by Ulreich.
The goalkeeper, deputising for the injured Manuel Neuer, tried to palm away the effort but got it all wrong as the shot went in off his wrist.
It will further increase the pressure on Ulreich with some parts of the German media believing he is not good enough to take Neuer's place.
He could do little about Didavi's header, which came off the post and went in.
It means that should league leaders Borussia Dortmund defeat Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday afternoon they will go three points clear of the champions.
Bayern Munich and Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer will be out of action until January after sustaining a foot injury for the second time in six months, the Bavarians said on Tuesday.
Bayern said in a statement that the 31-year-old had suffered a "repeat hairline fracture of the metatarsal in his left foot" during a training session on Monday.
He underwent surgery early on Tuesday which involved setting the fracture with a plate, the club added. Neuer suffered a similar injury to the same foot in April.
"We're incredibly sorry for him," said Bayern's chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
"The operation went perfectly, which is the most important thing for now. We and our captain are now looking to the future. Manuel will be back to his previous best and available to us again in January."
Bayern, Bundesliga champions for the past five seasons, have taken nine points from their first four games and face Schalke 04 away later on Tuesday.
Colombia midfielder James Rodriguez celebrated his first Bundesliga start for Bayern Munich in style by inspiring them to a 3-0 win at Schalke 04 on Tuesday.
James, on loan from Real Madrid, scored the second goal and cleverly set up the third, having also played a part in winning the penalty which got Bayern off the mark.
Robert Lewandowski fired Bayern ahead from the spot in the 25th minute after James got to the byline and produced a cross which was handled by Naldo.
Four minutes later, James got free in the Schalke box and tucked his shot past Ralf Faehrmann for Bayern's second.
Not content with that, he cut inside two defenders and dinked the ball over the Schalke defence for Arturo Vidal to add the third in the 75th minute.
Bayern's win put them on 12 points from five games and took them top, at least until Wednesday.
Augsburg continued their impressive start when a fourth-minute goal from Michael Gregoritsch gave them a 1-0 win over last season's runners-up RB Leipzig.
VfL Wolfsburg drew 1-1 at home to Werder Bremen and Borussia Moenchengladbach beat VfB Stuttgart 2-0 in the other games.
Hoffenheim manager Julian Nagelsmann has opened the door to a future move to Bayern Munich, saying the club might make him a little happier than he is now.
The 30-year-old has drawn plenty of praise for what he has done with Hoffenheim despite his tender age and on the weekend his side defeated the champions 2-0.
It follows up a 1-0 victory last season that saw him lead his team to fourth in the Bundesliga.
Despite being knocked out of the Champions League qualifying round by Liverpool, Nagelsmann is still one of the most sought-after managers in the world and has been mooted as a possible replacement for Carlo Ancelotti at Bayern.
Speaking to Eurosport, Nagelsmann mentioned his closeness to Munich as a city but he stressed nothing has been agreed.
"Well, it is definitely of importance to me. I am from or rather have lived in Munich for many years.
"Originally I am from Landsberg am Lech which isn’t far away from Munich. My wife and my kid are going to move to Munich soon, we are building a house; therefore we do have a close bond to this area. It is our home.
"And even if I am not going to coach FC Bayern München I will still be a happy person whenever I do die. I am very, very happy with my life. And FC Bayern might even make me a little happier, but that doesn’t say that my happiness depends on FC Bayern."
Former German international and Bayern Sporting Director Matthias Sammer, who works for Eurosport, said that he believes the move will happen.
"Time will tell. And if everything goes its usual course we can safely assume that it (Nagelsmann’s transfer so Bayern, as a coach) will happen sometime."
The Brazil international has emerged as a target for Massimiliano Allegri's side and they are hoping to lure him away from the Bundesliga champions
Juventus are making moves to sign Douglas Costa from Bayern Munich, with the German champions looking to generate a €45 million fee, Goal understands.
The Brazil international emerged as a target for the Serie A champions in recent weeks and talks with his representatives on Tuesday suggest that he is willing to move to Turin.
Injuries limited the 26-year-old's involvement in Bayern's Bundesliga-winning campaign under Carlo Ancelotti, starting just 14 of the 23 games he played.
While Ancelotti is said to be willing to let him go, with Bayern unhappy with an interview Costa gave to Bild am Sonntag in February in which he admitted to not being happy, the Italian coach will look to add another winger to his squad before allowing the deal to go through, even after the addition of Serge Gnabry from Werder Bremen.
The German side are hoping to bring in €45m for a player they bought from Shakhtar Donetsk for €30m in 2015 and is contracted to the club until 2020.
Costa, meanwhile, is understood to be looking for €7m-a-year if he trades Bavaria for Turin.
The two clubs have developed a relationship in recent years, with Arturo Vidal and Kingsley Coman going from Juve to Bayern and Medhi Benatia going the other way, which the Bianconeri will hope can help bridge the gap in negotiations.
Meanwhile, Massimiliano Allegri's side are still in pursuit of midfielder Steven N'Zonzi, who is contracted to Sevilla until 2020 with a €40m release clause and has also been linked to Chelsea and Barcelona.
They have also made contact with the agent of Fiorentina attacker Federico Bernardeschi over a potential move.