Bayern Munich blazed four goals past Schalke in the opening 28 minutes, and Arjen Robben posted a hat-trick as the Bundesliga leaders humbled the Royal Blues 5-1 at Allianz-Arena, Saturday.
Robben, whose final tally came from the penalty spot, rounded out the scoring after Rafinha had given Schalke the slightest of lifelines with a second-half own goal, but at the final whistle, Bayern’s unbeaten run in the German top flight had stretched to 47 matches, their lead atop the table extended to 20 points.
It took only three minutes for the hosts to take the lead in front of their own support.
Moments after Sead Kolasinac had fouled Rafinha about 25 yards from goal, David Alaba unleashed an ambitious free-kick that took a wicked deflection off Roman Neustadter before beating goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann.
But if there was any thought that Bayern were riding their luck, it was put to bed just 12 minutes later when, following a persistent spell of buildup play, Mandzukic found Robben with a layoff following a mix-up in the Schalke box, and the Dutchman made no mistake from in close.
Nine minutes after that the treble winners were 3-0 in front when Mandzukic headed Alaba’s inch-perfect cross into goal. Shortly before the half-hour mark, Robben had his brace after capitalizing on Schalke defender Joel Matip’s tangle with Mandzukic.
From there, Bayern were in cruise control and breezed through to the final whistle with 82 per cent possession (all statistics courtesy WhoScored.com).
Still, Schalke had a bit of life left after the interval and made a bright start to the second half with Christian Fuchs, in particular, marauding down the left-hand side of the pitch.
Then Klaas-Jan Huntelaar had a crack at goal following some good work from Draxler shortly after the hour-mark, but he lacked conviction in the strike and pulled it well wide of the target.
Not long after, Schalke were on the scoresheet.
A succession of corner kicks had put Bayern on the back foot for the first time, and Kevin-Prince Boateng’s 64th-minute delivery landed dangerously in the Bayern goalmouth before being stabbed past goalkeeper Manuel Neuer by Brazil international Rafinha.
But the concession only restored the resolve Bayern had been lacking since the opening period. In the 68th minute, Mandzukic quite nearly had his side’s fifth of the evening when Gotze played him through, only to be denied by the spectacular Fahrmann.
In the end, it was a foul on Mandzukic that put the finishing touches on a resounding Bayern win.
Boateng’s careless back pass intended for teammate Kyriakos Papadopoulos was sprung upon by the Croatia striker, who went to ground under the slightest of touches from the Schalke defender.
Papadopoulos was issued a straight red card for the foul, and Robben stepped up to round out both his hat-trick and Bayern’s 21st win of the campaign.
Key Player Grades
Arjen Robben: A+
The Dutchman came into Saturday’s match with seven goals on the season and exited with 10. Throughout the encounter, he reminded observers of his otherworldly dribbling ability, and his first two goals were examples of composed, accurate finishing. Then there was his penalty—placed emphatically in the top corner of the goal.
Ralf Fahrmann: B+
But for the 25-year-old, Bayern Munich could well have hit double digits. On none of the five goals he conceded did the Schalke goalkeeper stand a chance, and on several occasions—especially on the frustrated Mandzukic—he made spectacular saves when there might otherwise have been impressive goals.
|Bayern Munich Player Ratings|
|schalke Player Ratings|
Next up for table-toppers Bayern is a March 8 trip to Wolfsburg, after which they’ll return to Allianz-Arena for the second leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie with Arsenal on March 11. Schalke, meanwhile, will host Hoffenheim on the March 8, travel to Augsburg on the 14th and then visit Real Madrid in the Champions League on the 18th.