The amazing Robert Lewandowski scored a first-half hat-trick as the 10 men of Bayern Munich restored their four-point advantage at the top of the Bundesliga with a convincing 4-0 victory over Stuttgart.
The straight red card shown to Alphonso Davies for a dangerous foul after just 12 minutes meant, with added time factored in, Hansi Flick’s side played 80-odd minutes with a man disadvantage. But it only motivated the Bavarians, who ruthlessly chalked up a four-goal lead before the interval.
Serge Gnabry set up Lewandowski for the opener before the provider turned goalscorer to double Bayern's advantage just four minutes later.
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Less than 60 seconds later, Lewandowski got his second with a pinpoint header from Thomas Muller's cross, and he completed his treble six minutes before the break following a driving run from Leroy Sane.
That was number 35 for the season for Lewandowski, who took a significant step to breaking Gerd Muller's record of 40 goals in a single campaign set back in 1972.
And the Poland international had a golden opportunity for a fourth after the restart, but scuffed his shot over the bar with just Stuttgart goalkeeper Gregor Kobel to beat.
Bayern were unable to add a fifth, despite the best efforts of Leroy Sane and substitute Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting. But this was another supreme performance from Hansi Flick's side, their numerical disadvantage only emphasising their undeniable quality. And with it, they move to 61 points, four ahead of RB Leipzig in second. Stuttgart, meanwhile, drop to eighth.

Thomas Mueller of FC Bayern Muenchen reacts as Gonzalo Castro of VfB Stuttgart looks on

Image credit: Getty Images

TALKING POINT - Ruthless Lewandowski closes in on record

Hat-tricks in back-to-back home games has the sensational Lewandowski within touching distance of a record-breaking league campaign. Not since 1972 has anyone scored 40 or more goals in the Bundesliga, but almost everything the Bayern hitman has touched this season has turned to gold, and he's now well on course to make history.
But perhaps he has an even bigger landmark in mind. Last week, Lewandowski equalled Klaus Fischer as the second-highest scorer in Bundesliga history with his 268th goal. He still has some ground to make up to catch Muller on 365, but at the age of just 32 and considering how few injuries he's had, you couldn't rule out the possibility of Lewandowski achieving such a feat.
With the Ballon d'Or controversially axed last season, Lewandowski was robbed of football's biggest individual prize. But with 42 goals in just 36 appearances in all competitions already this term, he simply cannot be overlooked for the 2021 award.

MAN OF THE MATCH - Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Who else? The 32-year-old had four chances and scored with three of them.

PLAYER RATINGS

Bayern Munich: Neuer 6, Pavard 7, Boateng 7, Sule 7, Davies N/A, Alaba 7, Goretzka 8, Sane 8, Muller 9, Gnabry 9, Lewandowski 10.. subs: Musiala N/A, Martinez N/A, Choupo-Moting 5.
Stuttgart: Kobel 5, Mavropanos 5, Anton 5, Kempf 5, Silas 5, Endo 5, Castro 5, Sosa 4, Ahamada 5, Coulibaly 5, Kalajdzic 6.. subs: Gonzales 5, Didavi N/A, Karazor N/A, Klimowicz 5.

KEY MOMENTS

12' - Red card! Oh my, Bayern are down to 10 men! Davies is sent off for a lunge on Endo. Initially the referee shows the Canadian a yellow, but it goes to VAR and the card is upgraded to red. It was dangerous and high, and that's probably the right call.
18' - GOAL! Bayern Munich 1-0 Stuttgart (Robert Lewandowski): Goal number 33 for Lewandowski! Despite being down to 10 men, Bayern have the lead. Stuttgart deal with the initial corner delivery, but Gnabry has it back and runs down the left, delivering a low cross for Lewandowski and he finishes with an instinctive effort past Kobel.
22' - GOAL! Bayern Munich 2-0 Stuttgart (Serge Gnabry): What a lovely team goal to make it two! One and two touch football from the hosts as Sane sets up Gnabry, who slots it home with conviction!
23' - GOAL! Bayern Munich 3-0 Stuttgart (Robert Lewandowski): Stuttgart are in complete disarray as Bayern score again! Straight from kick-off the hosts win the ball, Muller stands up a pinpoint cross and Lewandowski arrows a header into the top corner. Madness!
39' - GOAL! Bayern Munich 4-0 Stuttgart (Robert Lewandowski): A first-half hat-trick for Lewandowski! Goal number 35 for the season, unbelievable! From Stuttgart's free-kick Bayern break, Sane leading the charge down the right. His pass finds Goretzka inside the box, but it breaks to Lewandowski, who fires it into the bottom corner.
63' - A chance for Lewi's fourth! Perhaps he's human after all! With just the goalkeeper to beat, Lewandowski has a golden opportunity to score his fourth, but he scuffs his shot over the bar!

Stuttgart's German midfielder Gonzalo Castro shoots a free kick during the German first division Bundesliga football match between FC Bayern Munich and VfB Stuttgart in Munich

Image credit: Getty Images

KEY STATS

  • Robert Lewandowski has scored 35 goals in this Bundesliga season – only Gerd Muller has scored more in a single campaign (40 – 1971-72, 38 – 1969-70, 36 – 1972-73).
  • David Alaba made his 273rd Bundesliga appearance, equalling Franck Ribery's record as the foreign player with the most Bundesliga appearances for Bayern Munich
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