BERLIN: Robert Lewandowski netted twice as Bayern Munich roared back from two goals down to earn a 5-2 home win over Mainz on Sunday which put the European champions back at the top of the Bundesliga. Mainz’s 2-0 half-time lead was wiped out within 10 minutes of the restart as Bayern netted five unanswered second-half goals at the Allianz Arena. The result leaves Bayern two points clear of second-placed RB Leipzig, who had gone top after their 1-0 win at Stuttgart on Saturday.
Accoring to Bayern coach Hansi Flick, the fight back should give them “self-confidence” to tackle their congested fixture list in the coming weeks. Mainz caretaker coach Jan Siewert insisted his side gave their all, but “you have to respect Bayern’s quality”. Joshua Kimmich marked his return from a knee injury by bagging Bayern’s first, with Leroy Sane and Niklas Suele scoring before Lewandowski added two more goals to increase his league tally to 19. Lewandowski, named last month as FIFA’s player of the year, has now netted 22 times in all competitions for Bayern this season.
“In the second half we came out with a completely different attitude,” Kimmich told Sky. “We always know that we can turn games around, but of course it costs a lot of effort.” Bayern were in trouble at the break after second-from-bottom Mainz clinically took their chances. Their striker Jonathan Burkardt nudged Jerome Boateng, who was knocked off balance while leaping for the ball, and sprinted away before firing the visitors into a shock lead on 32 minutes.
Boateng was booked for furiously arguing he had been fouled, but the goal was allowed to stand after a lengthy review. Mainz doubled their lead when centre-back Alexander Hack headed home a free-kick a minute before the break. Flick substituted Boateng for Suele and switched Kimmich from midfield to right-back for the second period. The result was almost instant as Kimmich headed Bayern’s first goal on 50 minutes, then set up Sane to score six minutes later.
On his 21st birthday, Mainz midfielder Leandro Barreiro had an own goal overturned when VAR spotted an offside Bayern player. “We were lucky that Mainz didn’t score the third goal,” Kimmich later admitted. However, the goals kept flowing as Suele tapped home a corner on 70 minutes. Lewandowski then converted a penalty on 76 minutes after Serge Gnabry had to be helped off after being fouled in a heavy tackle. The Poland striker added his second, and Bayern’s fifth, from close range seven minutes from time.
Sancho ends goal drought
Earlier, England winger Jadon Sancho scored his first Bundesliga goal this season to seal a 2-0 win for Borussia Dortmund at home against Wolfsburg to breathe life back into his side’s fading title hopes. After crashing to a shock 2-1 defeat at Union Berlin before the league’s two-week winter hiatus, Dortmund saw off a spirited Wolfsburg side. Dortmund finally broke the deadlock at Signal Iduna Park when Manuel Akanji’s powerful header hit the net on 66 minutes before Sancho broke clear to score their second in added time. Having occasionally struggled this season, the 20-year-old Sancho capped a fine display in style after also providing the corner from which Akanji scored.
“It wasn’t an easy win, but we stayed calm and I’m pleased that Sancho put in such a good corner and the ball went in,” Akanji told Sky. Dortmund moved up to fourth, eight points behind leaders Bayern. Dortmund striker Erling Braut Haaland returned from a hip injury after missing the previous seven games. Although short of match fitness, he went close with several chances before coming off with 10 minutes left. Wolfsburg were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty after the ball struck the hand of Dortmund midfielder Axel Witsel, but no spot-kick was awarded after a long review. – AFP