Bayern Munich eased to a third successive Bundesliga win as they crushed struggling Hannover 4-0 away from home, giving every indication they are close to being back at their best.
Niko Kovac's men have been erratic this season and played out a dramatic 3-3 draw with Ajax in the Champions League as recently as Wednesday, but in Hannover they were irresistible and cruised to a victory that puts them level with second-placed Borussia Monchengladbach on 30 points.
Bayern never looked to be in any danger of dropping points in Lower Saxony, taking an early lead through Joshua Kimmich and then consolidating their dominant position thanks to David Alaba's stunning strike in the 29th minute.
Things were similarly straightforward after the break, with the lively Serge Gnabry and Robert Lewandowski getting in on the act to secure a 12th consecutive Bundesliga win over Hannover for the defending champions.
It took Bayern just 64 seconds to break the deadlock as Thomas Muller – making his 300th Bundesliga appearance – played a hopeful overhead volley to the edge of the penalty area from the byline, and Kimmich found the bottom-left corner.
Muller should have got a goal of his own in the 19th minute, but he fired over from 18 yards after being found by Leon Goretzka.
Alaba made no such error just before the half-hour mark, however, smashing a gorgeous left-footed half-volley into the roof of the net from 20 yards after a Bayern corner was partially cleared.
Gnabry extended the lead early in the second period, prodding home from close range after seeing his initial shot blocked by a defender.
The previously disappointing Lewandowski joined in just after the hour – nodding in a cross from the excellent Kimmich, but the Poland star could not get a second as he inexplicably fired into the side-netting from six yards in stoppage time.
Simply the best. pic.twitter.com/vJtrXe47gd— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) December 15, 2018
What does it mean? Kovac winning the battle
It is fair to say that Kovac's first few months in charge of Bayern have been turbulent. However, with the team starting to click and beginning a positive run in the Bundesliga, he is showing signs of turning things around.
Gnabry a potent weapon
There were few Bayern players who did not impress, but they were at their most effective on the right where Gnabry constantly threatened with his direct runs and clever off-the-ball movement. He got a bit of luck with his goal, but it was one he deserved.
Wimmer all at sea
It was a day to forget for Hannover in general, but centre-back Kevin Wimmer was particularly hapless. He struggled to cope with the movement of Bayern's attackers and was at fault for Gnabry's goal with his feeble challenge on the winger.
Key Opta Facts
- Kimmich scored Bayern's fastest Bundesliga goal since Mario Gomez on April 7th 2012 against Augsburg (24 seconds).
- It was Bayern's biggest Bundesliga away win since they triumphed 4-0 in Freiburg on March 4.
- Bayern have won 12 consecutive Bundesliga matches against Hannover; only against Werder Bremen are they currently on a longer winning streak (16 games).
- With just 10 points after 15 matches, Hannover 96 are enduring their worst Bundesliga season in 30 years. In 1988-89, they only had nine points after 15 games and were duly relegated.
Bayern will be looking to go five unbeaten in the Bundesliga when they host RB Leipzig on Wednesday, while Hannover – who have now lost three of their last four – travel to Freiburg on the same day.
20 de marzo 2019
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