BERLIN, April 7 (AP): Stung by recent criticism, Bayern Munich delivered a clear statement of intent after reclaiming top spot in the Bundesliga with a 5-0 thrashing of former leader Borussia Dortmund. Bayern leads Dortmund by one point with six rounds remaining.
“I’ve no explanation for it,” Dortmund captain Marco Reus said.
Two former Dortmund players, Mats Hummels and Robert Lewandowski, set Bayern back on track toward a record-extending seventh straight title a remarkable turnaround considering the side was nine points behind Dortmund earlier in the season. After temporarily losing the lead in a 1-1 league draw at Freiburg last weekend, before a close shave to second-division Heidenheim in the German Cup on Wednesday, Bayern’s pride was hurt.
“I’m particularly pleased because many people really criticised the team harshly,” Bayern coach Niko Kovac said.
The home side seized the initiative from the start, forcing a corner in the first minute and appealing for a penalty early on when Lewandowski went down under pressure from Abdou Diallo. Referee Manuel Graefe waved play on.
Mahmoud Dahoud struck the outside of the post with Dortmund’s first chance on a counterattack in the sixth minute. He should have scored – and it was the only chance. Hummels opened the scoring with a header to a corner in the 10th minute for the former Dortmund captain’s first league goal of the season.
A mistake from the 19-year-old Dan-Axel Zagadou gifted Lewandowski his 200th goal in the league seven minutes later. The Dortmund defender struck Lewandowski with an attempted pass and the Bayern forward – who previously played for Dortmund – gratefully lifted the ball over Roman Buerki before scoring in off the right post.
Bayern kept pushing and deservedly scored again through Javi Martinez in the 41st, two minutes before Serge Gnabry made it 4-0 to have club president Uli Hoeness waving his fists in triumph in the stands. The second half was much quieter than the first and Lewandowski wrapped it up with his 21st goal of the season in the 89th.
“That was a lesson for us, a very, very difficult game for us,” Dortmund coach Lucien Favre said.
“Bayern was much better, they played with much more tempo.” Luka Jovic scored in the ninth minute of stoppage time for Eintracht Frankfurt to consolidate its Champions League qualification place with a 2-1 win at Schalke.
The Serbian striker held his nerve to score despite furious protests from the home side over a decision made through VAR to award the spot kick for hand ball. Schalke coach Huub Stevens pushed his complaining players away from referee Sascha Stegemann and his team of assistants after the final whistle, and then turned to berate them himself.
“I don’t want to say too much. I am for VAR but as a coach you can’t say everything. Otherwise you can be punished,” Stevens said. The result leaves Schalke just five points clear of Stuttgart in the relegation playoff spot with six rounds left.
Frankfurt moved five points clear of fifth-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach, which hosts Werder Bremen on Sunday. Matheus Cunha scored a brilliant individual goal to seal Leipzig’s 4-2 win at Bayer Leverkusen and consolidate third place.
The Brazilian forward produced a pirouette reminiscent of France great Zinedine Zidane’s to elude Mitchell Weiser, and then lifted the ball over goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky to score in the 83rd minute.
Stuttgart drew with Nuremberg 1-1, helped by a VAR decision that appeared to overlook the offside-positioned Anastasios Donis in the build-up. Nuremberg remained second from bottom, three points ahead of Hannover, which lost 3-1 at Wolfsburg. Also, Hertha Berlin lost 2-1 at home to promoted Fortuna Duesseldorf.