BERLIN: Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Mueller both scored twice as Bayern Munich banished their early-season blues with a thumping 4-1 win over Bundesliga minnows Arminia Bielefeld on Saturday after a “crazy” first half. Treble winners Bayern started the day in mid-table following a shock defeat to Hoffenheim last month, but victory in Bielefeld was enough to propel them back up to second place. The champions burst out of the blocks and had an early penalty appeal turned down before Mueller bundled in the opener on eight minutes.
Lewandowski doubled the lead shortly afterwards, smashing the ball in from the edge of the area after a sharp cross from Leon Goretzka. The Poland striker linked up with Mueller to make it 3-0 just before half-time, and returned the favor after the break with a pinpoint cross to set up Mueller’s second. “The first 45 minutes were crazy, we played really well. We knew that the first game after the international break would be really important,” Lewandowski told Sky.
Japan winger Ritsu Doan then pulled one back for Bielefeld on the break, the PSV Eindhoven loanee netting his first Bundesliga goal since moving to Germany in the summer. Yet despite a late red card for Corentin Tolisso, Bayern were untroubled in the final stages and can now turn their attention to Wednesday’s Champions League opener against Atletico Madrid. Hansi Flick’s side now sit level on points with third-placed Borussia Dortmund, who snatched a late 1-0 win at Hoffenheim earlier on Saturday.
Dortmund, who like Bayern had already lost one game this season, looked set to drop further points before Erling Haaland and Marco Reus came off the bench in the second half to breathe new life into a blunt performance. Haaland, 20, surged forward on the break to set up Reus with a tap-in and snatch Dortmund’s first away victory over Hoffenheim in eight years. “They’ve always made it difficult for us here in recent years. We didn’t have many good chances in the first half and we knew we needed to create more in the second half,” the goalscorer told Sky.
Haaland was initially rested after he played three times for Norway in the previous two weeks, prompting criticism of the busy international schedule. “At Dortmund, we are used to having a lot of midweek games at this stage of the season. The schedule is a bit more hectic this year, so we have to look after ourselves,” said Reus, after slotting Haaland’s square pass into the open net to score his first goal since February.
Dortmund and Bayern now sit one point behind league leaders RB Leipzig, who held onto top spot with a 2-0 win against surprise high-fliers Augsburg. Angelino headed Leipzig in front on the stroke of half-time to score his second goal in two games, before Yussuf Poulsen doubled the lead with a sumptuous volley on 66 minutes. “These are the games you need to win if you want to land in the top four,” Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann told Sky. Elsewhere, Lucas Alario’s first half header sealed a 1-0 win for Bayer Leverkusen and extended second-from-bottom Mainz’s miserable run to four defeats in four games.
Promoted side Stuttgart continued their good start to the season, as Marc-Oliver Kempf and Gonzalo Castro fired them to a 2-0 win away to Hertha Berlin, while Werder Bremen held Freiburg to a 1-1 draw in the south west. Freiburg took the lead early on through Philipp Lienhart and had a second goal ruled out for offside before Bremen’s Niclas Fuellkrug leveled the scores from the penalty spot. In Saturday’s late game, Wolfsburg chalked up a fourth successive draw away to Borussia Moenchengladbach, as Wout Weghorst struck late to cancel out Jonas Hofmann’s second-half penalty. – AFP