Five-star Bayern thrash Leverkusen
Mario Gomez netted a first-half hat-trick as he guided Bayern Munich to a crushing 5-1 victory at home to Bayer Leverkusen in their first match since the sacking of coach Louis van Gaal.
Simon Rolfes scored an own goal to put Bayern ahead after seven minutes, before Gomez struck in the 28th and 44th minutes and one minute into first-half stoppage time for a 4-0 half-time lead.
Bayern, who have not lost at home to Leverkusen since October 1989, reclaimed third place in the Bundesliga with 55 points - one point ahead of Hannover and six points behind Leverkusen.
Leverkusen, who had gone eight games without a loss and conceded just one goal in their last five games, could have trimmed the margin behind leaders Borussia Dortmund to two points and put the leaders under enormous pressure to beat Freiburg later today.
Bayern seemed like a liberated team under the helm of interim coach Andries Jonker. Van Gaal's former assistant coach changed his line-up in four positions, installing Hans-Jorg Butt back in goal while bringing in Daniel van Buyten, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk and Miroslav Klose.
The rout gave the caretaker coach his first win in charge. "We took our chances in a ruthless fashion and, certainly in the first half, we played with a high level of aggression," said Jonker. "The boys had clearly understood the message and they did what had to be done. It was a surprise for me that we led 4-0 at half-time, I didn't bargain for that."
Captain Philipp Lahm spoke of the importance of results going their way. "It was important that Hanover drew, Leverkusen are still too far ahead for us to claim second, but we need to concentrate and make sure we stay in third," he said.
Own goal sets tone
Bayern grabbed the lead after just seven minutes from a set-piece. Ribery's corner from the right side was headed on by Bastian Schweinsteiger off the face of Leverkusen captain Rolfes and into his own goal.
Bayern doubled their advantage after 28 minutes following a mistake by Arturo Vidal. The Chilean's backheel at the goal line went directly to Thomas Muller, who had time to find Gomez and the Germany international striker's right-footed finish went off the left post and in.
It was 3-0 in the 44th minute as Van Buyten collected a lost ball by the Leverkusen defence and passed to the right wing, from where Muller sent a fine cross to Gomez, who easily slotted home past Leverkusen goalkeeper Rene Adler.
Gomez completed his first-half hat-trick a minute into stoppage time, with Schweinsteiger finding him on the right edge of the box, allowing him to blast past Adler for a 4-0 half-time advantage.
Bayern did not push forward as aggressively after the break, allowing Leverkusen to gain more control and the visitors pulled a goal back after 62 minutes. Derdiyok was quicker to a loose ball following a challenge in the air with Van Buyten and beat Butt to make it 4-1.
Ribery then got on the score-sheet with 15 minutes to play after a give-and-go with Van Buyten, before striking into the left corner for a 5-1 lead. Bayern nearly made it a half-dozen goals as Andreas Ottl struck the crossbar in the 86th minute.