Berlin, March 21 (IANS) A red card for Alphonso Davies proved no hindrance to Bayern Munich as the Bundesliga champions thrashed hapless VFB Stuttgart 4-0 with the help of a Robert Lewandowski hat-trick to send an emphatic message to title rivals RB Leipzig.
The defending champions restored their four-point advantage at the top of the table after Leipzig won the weekend opener 1-0 at Arminia Bielefeld on Friday. The leading pair meet in Leipzig on April 3 after the international break.
Lewandowski will enter that match knowing a goal would make him the first player to score against every Bundesliga opponent in a season and help him close in further to Gerd Mueller’s record of 40 from 1971-72, DPA news reports.
Lewandowski hit a first half perfect hat-trick of right-foot, head and left-foot finishes to reach 35 for the campaign while Serge Gnabry finished a glorious move for Bayern’s second.
The goal flurry came after Davies was dismissed in just 12 minutes after video review upgraded his yellow card for a challenge on Wataru Endo to red.
Bayern coach Hansi Flick paid his team a “huge compliment” for how they reacted to the “fair” dismissal of Davies.
If midtable Stuttgart expected their man-advantage to aid their cause, they were in for a shock.
Just six minutes later Gnabry whipped in a cross for Lewandowski to guide home, right-footed, at the near post and the German winger turned scorer by completing a wonderful passing move from Thomas Mueller and Leroy Sane.
Around 60 seconds later Lewandowski headed his second and a left-foot drive before half-time completed his 13th Bundesliga treble on a pass from Sane.
Lewandowski did have a rare miss, blazing over when free in the box, before being substituted but could be happy with another strong display.
“That makes me very proud,” he said of moving onto 271 Bundesliga goals, in sole possession of second on the all-time list behind Mueller’s 365.
“After the red card we woke up,” he said. “Thankfully after the red card we played very well.”
But in terms of personal records, Lewandowski said he wasn’t thinking of how many goals he had to score rather simply game to game.
Stuttart’s miserable day was compounded by Silas Wamangituka injuring his knee in a tackle with David Alaba. “We’re worried about him,” sport director Sven Mislintat told Sky.
“If you’re lacking even just a couple of percentage points against Bayern, they’re capable of scoring three goals against you in a matter of minutes,” said Stuttgart coach Pellegrino Matarazzo.
“We were much better in the second half. We were taught a lesson today, and that’s something we’ll work on.”
Third-place Wolfsburg won 2-1 at Werder Bremen and Eintracht Frankfurt strengthened their grip on the fourth and final Champions League place by beating Union Berlin 5-2.
Fifth-placed Borussia Dortmund in contrast rescued a 2-2 draw at relegation-threatened Cologne thanks to Erling Haaland’s last-minute leveller but trail Frankfurt by four points before hosting Eintracht in two weeks.
Bayer Leverkusen could leapfrog Dortmund should they win at Hertha Berlin in one of three Sunday games.
At the other end of the table, bottom club Schalke moved closer to relegation with a 3-0 defeat at home to Borussia Moenchengladbach, who went ninth after ending a seven-game losing streak in all competitions which coincided with coach Marco Rose announcing he would join Dortmund next season.