An astonishing five-goal first-half, including a burst of four in eight minutes, from Bayern Munich delivered a dominant 5-1 win away to Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday as the champions returned to the top of the Bundesliga.
Only goal difference separated Bayern and Leverkusen before kick-off but a clinical display from Julian Nagelsmann’s side exposed a wide gulf between the teams.
Robert Lewandowski needed only three minutes to flick in the opener and the lead should have been doubled even before he struck his second in the 30th. That sparked a complete collapse from the hosts as Thomas Mueller made it three in the 34th before Serge Gnabry hit a quick-fire double in the 35th and 37th minutes.
Leverkusen, to their credit, attempted to salvage some dignity after the restart but had only Patrik Schik’s response to show for their efforts. Bayern reclaimed top spot a point ahead of Borussia Dortmund, who won 3-1 against Mainz on Saturday, while Leverkusen are two further back in third.
Bayern had a first loss under Nagelsmann, to Eintracht Frankfurt, before the last international break but immediately went about bouncing back in style. Dayot Upamecano was given the freedom of the box at a free-kick and his ball across goal was backheeled home by Lewandowski. Leroy Sane hit the post and Leon Goretkza shot straight at keeper Lukas Hradecky as Leverkusen wobbled until Bayern knocked them over completely.
Alphonso Davies created the next by charging in off the left for Lewandowski to finish and the quick young Canadian – who scored a wonder-goal for his country in the break – would play only a few more minutes being substituted as a precaution. By that time Mueller had deflected in Niklas Suele’s shot at a corner and Mueller then turned provider with a cross for Gnabry to score his first. Gnabry completed his own brace immediately thanks to a neat one-two with Goretzka as Leverkusen’s defence disintegrated.
The hosts came out energized for the restart and Kerem Demirbay surged into the box only to be denied by Manuel Neuer. Bayern’s keeper was beaten in when talented teenager Florian Wirtz slipped in Patrik Schick for a 55th minute consolation but it made little difference to the outcome.
Naglesmann could then rest Mueller and Lewandowski – now level with Dortmund’s Erling Haaland on nine atop the scoring chart – before they visit Benfica in the Champions League on Wednesday. Leverkusen return to action in the Europa League at Real Betis a day later and must hope to avoid a repeat of last term when a home defeat to Bayern in December sparked a catastrophic run of form to ruin their season. Augsburg host Arminia Bielefeld in a relegation six-pointer to conclude matchday eight later Sunday.
Photo Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski (L) celebrates after scoring the 2-0 lead during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Bayer Leverkusen and FC Bayern Muenchen at BayArena in Leverkusen, Germany, 17 October 2021. EPA-EFE/SASCHA STEINBACH