Hanover - Bundesliga table-toppers FC Bayern München showed no signs of a European hangover as they stretched their unbeaten streak to 47 league games, collecting a comfortable 4-0 win over Hannover 96 on Sunday evening.
Müller the difference-maker
Thomas Müller got the ball rolling for the record titleholders with a thunderous header before Thiago added a second before half-time. Proceedings dropped in intensity after the break, but that didn’t prevent Müller and Mario Mandzukic rounding out the scoring to move the Bavarians 19 points clear at the summit of Germany’s top flight.
Hannover sent out an early warning to the visitors when Leonardo Bittencount burst down the left with a fine solo run, but having failed to produce the final ball, the hosts couldn’t prevent Bayern settling into their dominant rhythm.
Nevertheless, Hannover still had chances on the counter. Artjoms Rudnevs was twice offered the chance to break in behind but couldn’t pull his run wide enough to slip the ball beyond the onrushing Tom Starke - handed a rare start to give Manuel Neuer a rest - before being denied by the offside flag when trying to collect Szabolcs Huszti’s pass moments later. In not taking their chances, though, Hannover left themselves vulnerable to falling behind, which they did shortly before the half-hour mark when Müller met Rafinha’s cross with aplomb to beat Ron-Robert Zieler at his near post.
Bright spells for both sides
Keen to make the most of their concerted pressure, Bayern’s movement in the final third began creating gaps in the hosts' backline, which in turn led to both Mandzukic and Thiago drawing sprawling saves out of Zieler. However, the Spaniard was not be denied twice as he latched onto Bastian Schweinsteiger’s sumptuous ball over the top, controlling on his chest before volleying into the back of the net to hand the visitors a two-goal lead by the break.
Bayern’s sense of urgency diminished in the early stages of the second period, offering Hannover unlikely hope. Rudnevs sought to catch the visitors off guard early, but having spotted Starke of his line, couldn’t direct his long-range effort on target. The Bayern custodian was, however, called into action twice soon after, diving to his left to prevent Mame Diouf’s downward header finding the back of the net before rushing out to close down the angle on Huszti.
Hannover's wasted opportunities only served to wake the sleeping giant that is the Bundesliga leaders, who promptly extended their advantage even further when Mandzukic’s back heel released Müller through the middle, allowing him to bag his brace by finding the bottom corner. The Croatian then got in on the act, firing wide with an acrobatic attempt from Philipp Lahm’s cross before rising high at the back post to head Rafinha’s delivery beyond Zieler.
Four goals to the good, Bayern showed no signs of letting up and were helped by the introductions of Arjen Robben and Toni Kroos off the bench. The former attempted to grab one of his trademark goals by cutting inside onto his left foot, but he was blocked by Hannover’s deep-lying defence. Starke was far from an idle viewer at the other end, though, and had to be on his toes to keep out Christian Schulz’s effort. But with the damage already done, Hannover's late rally failed to produce a breakthrough and FC Bayern notched yet another deserved three points.
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