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 Munich 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 Munich midfielder Joshua Kimmich sparked the home side’s comeback with their first goal.
He conceded that last season’s UEFA 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,” Kimmich said.
Mainz striker Jonathan Burkardt, who scored the opening goal, said: “We played with newly-found aggression and that’s something to build on in spite of the fact that we ended up conceding five goals.”
The German title-holders were trailing 2-0 at half-time before they woke up with their run of goals.
They included 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 15 metres 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 Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
Soon after, 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.
Leroy Sane equalised five minutes later with a scorcher from 20 metres into the bottom right corner.
The visitors again came agonisingly close to stunning Bayern Munich when Robin Quaison rattled the underside of the bar with a long-range thunderbolt.
But, once again, ruthless Bayern Munich took advantage instantly.
Half-time 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 kick after Leandro Barreiro had brought down Gnabry with a late tackle.
He 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.