Merciless Munich back to their best as they hit five in Mönchengladbach

FC Bayern München got the perfect start, withstood some minor resistance, and turned on the style as they dispatched bogey side Borussia Mönchengladbach in merciless fashion. In what was a great weekend for Niko Kovač’s men, leaders Dortmund also slipped up.

This was the FC Bayern we have all been wanting to see. They have finally made up the deficit, and the quest of for an historic seventh successive Bundesliga crown is well and truly on.

Enforced changes, lightning start

If the ongoing injury crisis was not enough, Bayern coach Niko Kovač was forced to make further changes as more players dropped out ahead of the crucial encounter at the Borussia-Park. David Alaba and Leon Goretzka were both out with small knocks, while Franck Ribéry was unable to shake off a tummy bug.

Rafinha, Thiago and Thomas Müller all made the starting lineup, while youngsters Lukas Mai, Woo-Yeong Jeong and Meritan Shabani all earned a place on the bench.

Earlier in the afternoon, leaders Borussia Dortmund fell to only their second defeat of the season. Thanks to Bavarian neighbours FC Augsburg, the Bayern players knew that a win in Mönchengladbach would take them level at the top on 54 points.

Bayern were straight out of the traps. Before the home side had a chance to draw breath, ‘keeper Yann Sommer was called into action. Thomas Müller’s pass was on a plate for Robert Lewandowski, whose shot was brilliantly turned behind by the Gladbach custodian.

There was no letup for Dieter Hecking’s side. The resulting corner was swung in by James Rodríguez, and man of the moment Javi Martínez nudged centre-back Nico Elvedi out of the way before finding the top right-hand corner.

There was a cursory check with the video referee, but the goal stood. It was the perfect start.

Bavarian barrage

Boosted by the early goal, Bayern increased the tempo and cranked up the pressure. The Gladbach defence had nowhere to run, and it was not long until Die Roten doubled their advantage. In the 11th minute, Serge Gnabry found enough space and time to tee up a teasing cross into the box. Müller pounced, and was first denied by Sommer before smashing in the rebound.

Despite Bayern’s dominance, the home side did have their moments. Frenchman Alessane Pléa did have the ball in the back of the net, but was correctly called back for offside.

Were it not for the Gladbach ‘keeper, the scoreline before half time could have been even more gruesome. The Swiss international did well to twice deny Lewandowski, and in between these two chances the Polish striker sent the ball into the crowd with the goal at his mercy. Sommer’s gloves were then warmed again by a Gnabry effort in the 33rd minute.

On any other day, the Bavarians could easily have had four or five.

Gladbach strike back

While Bayern have not had the best conversion rate this season, their opponents have usually made the most of their opportunities. So it would be after 37 minutes, when Gladbach fashioned a goal out of almost nothing. Thorgan Hazard played a lovely one-two with Lars Stindl, who charged past a sluggish Boateng before lashing the ball past Neuer at his near post.

The goal was excellently made and brilliantly executed by the German international, but the Bayern coach would have felt aggrieved at conceding what was in truth a pretty soft goal – particularly given their complete control over their opponents.

Kovač’s men should have long put the game to bed, but at half-time Die Fohlen would have fancied their chances of making a comeback.

Bayern run away with it

If Dieter Hecking gave his team a good talking during the break, it did not appear to pay off. As in the first half, Bayern were quick to get into gear and deliver a telling blow. Seconds after James had shot wide with the goal at his mercy, the Bavarians restored their two goal advantage through Lewandowski.

The Polish striker’s goal was a thing of beauty. Collecting a pin-point pass from Thiago, he still had plenty of work to do. The first touch was wonderfully delicate. The turn, simply sublime. The finish, typically clinical. Sommer, for all his previous efforts, had no chance.

Gladbach looked to respond, and Oscar Wendt blasted a free-kick narrowly wide of the target. The risky game played by home side fell right into the hands of the men in red, who shifted up another gear. On 75 minutes, Lewadowski was again foiled by his nemesis Sommer, but this time Gnabry was there to follow up.


The final minutes were more than comfortable for the visitors, and it gave the coach the perfect opportunity to give some of the younger players some match time. Canadian starlet Alphonso Davies got another taste of Bundesliga action, and was then joined by South Korean teenager Woo-Yeong Jeong.

Jeong was quick to get involved. As the clock ticked into injury time, the youngster found Kimmich in the box, who was upended by Hazard. The decision was a little harsh, but the visiting fans were not complaining when referee Felix Zwayer pointed to the penalty spot.

Lewandowski stepped up, and calmly sent Sommer the wrong way. The goal took the Pole level with former Bayern legend Claudio Pizarro as the highest non-German scorer in the history of the Bundesliga. 195 goals, in 280 matches.

Having been nine points adrift after 15 matches, Bayern are back level with Dortmund: Just two goals separate the two teams. No team has ever won the Meisterschale after making up such a large deficit, but Bayern will be looking to set yet another record.

Statistical Summary

Borussia Mönchengladbach – FC Bayern München 1:5 (1:2)
Stindl 37. / Martínez 2., Müller 11., Lewandowski 47., pen 90.+1., Gnabry 75.

Gladbach: Sommer – Lang (76. Johnson), Ginter, Elvedi, Wendt – Kramer – Neuhaus (65. Zakaria), Hofmann (72. Raffael) – Hazard, Stindl (c), Pléa

FC Bayern: Neuer (c) – Kimmich, Süle, Boateng, Rafinha – Martínez, Thiago – James (80. Renato Sanches) – Müller (86. Jeong), Gnabry (83. Davies) – Lewandowski

Referee: Felix Zwayer (Berlin)
Attendance: 54,022

Yellow Cards: Hofmann 9., Kramer 70. / Boateng 51., Thiago 57.
Red Cards: – / –

Shots: 11 / 19
Passes: 416 / 705
Completed Passes: 350 / 646
Pass Success: 84% / 92%
Possession: 37% / 63%
Fouls: 6 / 13
Offsides: 2 / 1
Corners: 1 / 9