Jupp Heynckes hailed academy coach Tom Starke's performance in goal as Bayern Munich edged to a scrappy 1-0 victory against bottom-of-the-table Cologne to move nine points clear at the top of the Bundesliga.
Robert Lewandowski scored the only goal of the game on the hour mark, slotting home from close range after a deft back-header from captain Thomas Muller. Bundesliga top scorer Lewandowski has now found the net in all eight Bayern home games this season -- taking his tally to 15 league goals.
However, Heynckes's side were indebted to Starke's brilliant save from Lukas Klunter in the dying minutes to preserve their slender advantage over relegation-bound Cologne.
Starke, 36, officially ended his playing career in the summer but came out of retirement to ease Bayern's goalkeeping crisis after first-choice Manuel Neuer fractured his foot in September. The veteran goalkeeper celebrated his 100th Bundesliga appearance at the weekend in the 1-0 win in Frankfurt after Neuer's back-up Sven Ulreich had injured his adductor in the warm-up.
"Tom is an extremely positive young man -- even at the age of 36," the 72-year-old Heynckes told Sky Germany.
"He kept four clean sheets in four games in 2012-13 when he deputised for Manuel Neuer and now he has played twice and hasn't let in a goal either.
"In addition, he's super in training every day and a really positive asset to the team as well," Heynckes said.
Captain Muller echoed his coach's sentiment: "Tom is enjoying a new lease of life. He is a super bloke and a good keeper."
Despite Starke's impressive performances in the previous two games, Heynckes confirmed that Sven Ulreich would return in goal against his former side Stuttgart on Saturday -- provided he continues to make good progress from his adductor problem.
Heynckes also understood why the winless visitors played so defensively.
"In Cologne's situation it is a legitimate tactic," he said.
"We weren't precise enough in our play and couldn't change tempo quickly enough. We struggled today. We lacked freshness and fluidity, but the fact that despite struggling we can still win games is the positive we can take from today."
While Muller added: "Apart from the final three minutes, Cologne just defended so it wasn't easy for us. However, we did not do enough in the first half, our play did not flow and there was not enough movement.