Harry Kane produced a long-range stunner to help Bayern Munich close out 2023 with a 2-1 win at Wolfsburg.

Kane fired home from 25 yards in the 43rd minute for his 21st Bundesliga goal of the season to put Thomas Tuchel’s side in control after Jamal Musiala opened the scoring on his landmark appearance.

Wolfsburg captain Maximilian Arnold reduced the arrears on the stroke of half-time with a fine strike of his own, but Niko Kovac’s men were unable to take points off his former side Bayern, who stayed second and four points behind Bayer Leverkusen going into the mid-season break.

Tuchel could only name six substitutes at Volkswagen Arena and remained without Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich.

It was actually Wolfsburg who made the stronger start with Manuel Neuer forced to deny Mattias Svanberg early on, but it was not a sign of things to come.

Kane got his first sight of goal soon after although failed to connect sufficiently enough with his attempted volley as Bayern tried to stamp their authority on proceedings.

The visitors dominated possession and should have broke the deadlock in the 28th minute, but Thomas Muller failed to find the net with two efforts after Leroy Sane’s centre.

Muller, fresh from signing a new contract on Tuesday, headed against the crossbar minutes later before he turned provider with 33 minutes on the clock.

Bayern’s experienced attacker cut inside and produced a superb cross with his left foot that Musiala headed home to mark his 100th Bundesliga appearance in style.

A second assist followed for Muller 10 minutes later, but it was all about Kane as he curled into the top corner from range for his 25th goal in all competitions this season before he celebrated by sliding towards the corner flag.

It was not a perfect half for Tuchel though after Wolfsburg reduced the deficit in stoppage time when Arnold’s swerving effort beat Neuer from long range.

Wolfsburg pressed for a second after the break and had penalty appeals turned down when Svanberg went down in the area following contact from Kim Min-Jae, but play was waved on.

Tuchel reacted soon after with Matthijs de Ligt introduced for his first appearance since November 1 following a knee injury.

Raphael Guerreiro could have sealed the points with 16 minutes left, but his close-range shot was blocked.

Wolfsburg did fashion one late opportunity and Neuer punched away Arnold’s speculative effort.

Christian Gunter was lost for words after his Freiburg side were thumped 6-0 by Wolfsburg on their return to Bundesliga action on Saturday.

Freiburg entered the two-month break second only to Bayern Munich in the table after winning four of their final five league games of 2022.

But any thoughts of possibly rivalling 10-in-a-row champions Bayern were put into perspective by Wolfsburg at the Volkswagen Arena.

Christian Streich's side were behind after just 59 seconds through a Patrick Wimmer strike, before Jonas Wind's double put the hosts in complete control before half-time.

Yannick Gerhardt and Ridle Baku joined the scoresheet in the second half, and Luca Waldschmidt beat Mark Flekken from the penalty spot to complete the scoring.

"I don't have any explanation. It wasn't expected. We have to look at what went wrong," Freiburg captain Gunter told Sky Sport.

"It's extremely painful to start like this in 2023. Everything came together for them; it was a very bad day for us."


Freiburg's heavy loss sees them drop to fourth below Eintracht Frankfurt and Union Berlin, with all three sides five points behind leaders Bayern.

Reflecting on a chastening day for his side, Freiburg head coach Christian Streich said: "We lost 6-0 and didn't have a chance.

"After the first minute, we got to know how good Wolfsburg are. In the end, we lost 6-0. What can I say? Maybe it's best I don't say anything."

Wolfsburg's win was their fifth in a row in Bundesliga – their best run since 2014 when winning six in a row – and moves them within four points of the Champions League spots.

"We got off to a very good start," Wolfsburg coach Niko Kovac said. "From our second shot, we scored our second goal, then it was a sure-fire success from there.

"Basically, you can't go wrong from there. I'm happy with the way this team is developing."

Robert Kovac has been appointed as Wolfsburg's new head coach following a topsy-turvy season for the Bundesliga side.

Wolfsburg began the 2021-22 campaign with Marc van Bommel at the helm, but he was dismissed in October after a promising start tailed off dramatically.

Successor Florian Kohfeldt inspired a brief upturn in form, only for a nine-match winless run to see the team fall from the European places in November to a potential relegation battle in January.

Kohfeldt remained at the helm as Wolfsburg recovered to secure a mid-table finish, although he was sacked following the final-day draw with champions Bayern Munich.

Next, Wolfsburg have turned to Kovac, who was last in work at Monaco in Ligue 1.

He has signed a three-year contract and will aim to repeat the successes of his previous Bundesliga stints, winning the DFB-Pokal with Eintracht Frankfurt and both the league and cup at Bayern Munich.

"I am a child of the Bundesliga," Kovac said, "and the desire and motivation are very great to open another successful chapter with the Wolves."

Former Bayern coach Kovac, who also has experience with Croatia, left Monaco during Ligue 1's winter break at the start of this year.

The principality club subsequently enjoyed a stunning late-season run under Philippe Clement to finish third and enter next season's Champions League qualifying rounds.

Monaco have appointed Philippe Clement as their new head coach, two days after sacking Niko Kovac.

Clement joins the Ligue 1 outfit from Belgian side Club Brugge, where he had been in charge since 2019.

He guided them to the Belgian Pro League title in both of his two full seasons at the helm, while he also claimed the Belgian Super Cup in 2021.

Former Bayern Munich coach Kovac succeeded Robert Moreno in July 2020 on a three-year deal and finished third in his only full campaign in charge.

However, Monaco lost to Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League qualifying play-off stages in August and sit sixth in Ligue 1 after 19 matches.

They won three of their final four league games of 2021, but confirmed on Saturday that Kovac had been relieved of his duties.

Monaco defeated Quevilly Rouen 3-1 in the Coupe de France the following day, with their Ligue 1 campaign restarting next Sunday with a trip to Nantes.

Ligue 1 club Monaco have sacked head coach Niko Kovac, bringing an end to his 18-month spell in charge.

Former Bayern Munich coach Kovac succeeded Robert Moreno in July 2020 on a three-year deal and finished third in his only full season in charge.

However, Monaco were defeated by Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League qualifying play-off stages in August and are sixth in the French top flight after 19 matches.

The Principality club found a bit of form with three wins in their final four league games of 2021, but they confirmed on Saturday that Kovac has been relieved of his duties.

A club statement read: "Monaco announces they have decided to part ways with Niko Kovac. The Croatian coach was informed about this on Thursday in a preliminary interview."

Monaco B boss Stephane Nado will take temporary charge until a replacement for Kovac, who lasted just 74 games in his first job since leaving Bayern, is found.

Club Brugge coach Philippe Clement is the favourite to land the position, while Jesse Marsch – who left RB Leipzig last month – is also a rumoured contender.

Monaco face Quevilly Rouen in the Coupe de France on Sunday, with their Ligue 1 campaign restarting on January 9 with a trip to Nantes.

Kylian Mbappe is delighted to get the chance to play alongside Karim Benzema at Euro 2020, declaring there are not many better players than the Real Madrid forward.

Benzema, 33, earned his first France call-up in over five years on Tuesday when he was included in Didier Deschamps' squad for the delayed Euro 2020 tournament.

Mbappe, meanwhile, continued his excellent season with a brilliant display in Paris Saint-Germain's 2-0 win over Monaco in the Coupe de France final on Wednesday, teeing up Mauro Icardi's opener and scoring himself late on.

It was the eighth direct goal involvement of Mbappe's Coupe de France campaign (five games), topping his previous best of seven in the competition, set in 2017-18.

Yet the main focus in the post-match news conference was on Benzema's return to Les Bleus' squad.

"I'm very happy. I've always said that I wanted to play with great players," said Mbappe.

"Benzema, I didn't [play with him]. There is not many [players] above him in the world. He will bring us a lot.

"He played at Madrid for 10 years, the pressure, he knows, he has the experience and the talent above all. The big players adapt. I'm sure he will adapt very quickly."

Mbappe was also asked if he would be in place to help PSG push on for a 15th Coupe de France trophy next season.

"We must take advantage of this title," he answered with a smile, deflecting the question somewhat. 

"Look at all the people who are happy! This is most important. And I am the happiest!"

PSG have won two trophies this season under Mauricio Pochettino, and the Ligue 1 title race is going down to the wire. Should they beat Brest on Sunday, and Lille drop points against Angers, the capital club will snatch the top-flight crown.

"We work every day to have this type of emotion, reward and recognition," Mbappe added.

"It's the work of a whole group, a whole staff, who work every day for us, for the club. The supporters, the title is for them too.

"When you play for Paris Saint-Germain, one of the best clubs in the world, the biggest in the country, every title counts."

Monaco boss Niko Kovac, meanwhile, said there was one major difference between the teams at Stade de France.

"The difference tonight is Mbappe," he said.

"He is one of the best players in the world, if not the best at the moment. All the clubs are fighting to have him. We had him, we no longer have him."

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