Bayern Munich have made a record-breaking start to the season, thanks in no small part to summer signing Sadio Mane.
With three goals in as many games, the Senegal forward is level with Jamal Musiala as both the Bundesliga's and the record champions’ top-scorer. Two of those goals came in Sunday’s 7-0 win over Bochum, and he was denied a third by a VAR check which confirmed the ball had struck his hand before rebounding in.
“What a game, what a game!” Mane told bundesliga.com afterwards. “The whole performance of the team was great today. We created many chances and we scored seven goals – what a game, I have to say. I’m really happy.”
Watch: Mane: "What a game!"
Mane did not dwell on that disallowed goal which, with Bayern already leading 3-0 thanks to goals from Leroy Sane, Matthijs de Ligt and Kingsley Coman, would have added his name to the scoresheet. Two minutes later, his name appeared in ink on the referee’s scorecard.
“When Kingsley [Coman] had the ball on the counter-attack, I knew I’d get a goal because we play together every day like this in training,” said Mane, who added a second from the penalty spot.
Although the 30-year-old converted the spot-kick which earned Senegal victory in the final of the African Cup of Nations against Egypt in February, Mane had not taken a penalty for his former club Liverpool since having an effort saved in 2015/16.
Now in new surroundings, Mane did not hesitate in stepping up to the spot, suggesting he could be following in the footsteps of Robert Lewandowski in more ways than one. “I’ve come to a new league, a new club, so I took a penalty,” Mane said. “I’m so happy and hope to score more penalties for the team.”
Mane’s goals have helped the record champions make a spectacular start to the season which, with 15 goals scored and just one conceded, has lifted the bar to its highest ever level after just three matchdays.
It is the best start any club has ever made to a Bundesliga capaign, but Mane says he expected the superlatives when he put pen to paper on his contract with the Bavarians.
“It’s no surprise for me,” he said. “The way we train – it’s a high, high, high level. The intensity we put in the training – everything we do with intensity and it pays off because we work very hard in training. We have a very good coach and the ideas he has are just incredible, so it’s very difficult for the other team to cope with us.”
Watch: Sadio Mane: "Very difficult to cope with us"
Mane has embraced that intensity, much to teammate de Ligt's delight.
“He’s a really important player for us; the intensity that he brings into the matches is so important,” said the Dutch defender, who also opened his Bayern account in Bochum. “You see that a lot of opponents have difficulties with him and I know why, because in training, he always gave me a hard time.”
De Ligt will be happy to see Mane at the other end of the field, doing what he does best, like on Matchday 3.
Watch: Matthijs de Ligt talks up Mane
With two goals from three shots on target, out of a total of 32 touches of the ball, and an impressive 67 per cent of his challenges won, Mane was irrepressible.
And with two goals disallowed and another hitting the woodwork in three Bundesliga games this season, as well as a debut goal in the Supercup, all signs point to Mane being a box-office smash in Munich.
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