Berlin - FC Bayern München clinched their 23rd Bundesliga title and 24th overall with a record-breaking seven games to spare courtesy of a 3-1 win at Hertha Berlin.
The Bavarians’ unrelenting domination was in full effect in the first-half as Toni Kroos and Mario Götze engineered the visitors a two-goal half-time lead. Adrian Ramos pulled a goal back from the spot, but Franck Ribery was on hand to quash any hopes of a comeback as the record titleholders stretched their unprecedented unbeaten run to 52 games.
Head coach Pep Guardiola made just three changes to the side that beat 1. FSV Mainz 05 at the weekend and, leading the line as a 'false nine' in Mario Mandzukic’s absence, Thomas Müller wasted no time in helping his side take an early lead. Having beaten his marker to get to the byline, the German international drilled the ball into the danger area, finding an unmarked Kroos, who made no mistake with the goal at his mercy.
With Hertha misplacing passes at an alarming rate, Bayern sensed blood and set about making the most of their early momentum. Götze failed to beat Thomas Kraft at his near post from a tight angle, but the 21-year-old got the better of Hertha’s keeper just five minutes later, meeting Bastian Schweinsteiger’s floated cross with a powerful header for his second goal against the capital city side this season.
It was one-way traffic in favour of the league leaders, who continued to produce free-flowing football in spite of their hosts' ultra-defensive approach. Arjen Robben and Müller were enjoying the rub of the green in the final third, with the latter twice going close to a third before the break, first hitting the bar from Götze’s cushioned cross before chipping just wide of the target with Kraft off his line.
The pattern changed little after the restart with Bayern maintaining their stranglehold on possession and Berlin pinned back under pressure from the champions elect. In truth the Berliners, who failed to muster a single shot on target during the first half, were chasing shadows in their attempts to close down their Bavarian counterparts.
Bayern had taken the pace out of proceedings but began to regret that decision just past the hour-mark when Rafinha was adjudged to have challenged Ramos unfairly inside the area. With the referee pointing to the spot, the Colombian striker seized his chance to reduce the arrears, dusting himself off before clipping his spot-kick coolly down the middle.
Conceding breathed new life into the table-toppers, who sealed the deal with a moment of individual brilliance from Ribery, who broke into the box on the left before chipping the ball over Kraft from the acutest of angles, wrapping up the victory and the Bundesliga title race in one fell swoop.
Line-ups and statistics
Click the video below for a montage from Bayern sponsor Adidas in appreciation of the Reds' tremendous efforts this season.