Bayern Munich warmed up for its return to Champions League action by crushing Werder Bremen 6-0, simultaneously warning both its European and its Bundesliga rivals that the powerful Bavarians a returning to top form.
There was a wonderful, much-needed comeback for VfB Stuttgart, which rallied from a 3-0 first half deficit, to get a 3-3 home draw with Bayer Leverkusen, themselves heading back into the Champions League cauldron this week. It wasn’t a win and three points, but it probably felt like a morale-boost for Stuttgart and it kept them out of the bottom three in the table.
No such good fortune for struggling Borussia Dortmund, however.
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Their Champions League form remains in stark contrast to their Bundesliga performances, another loss, this one a 2-1 disaster at newly-promoted Cologne further evidence that not much is going right for Juergen Klopp at the moment. Even the return of Ilkay Guendogan, Marco Reus and Henrikh Mkhitaryan from injury did not change their fortune. They are 13th in the table, 13 points off the pace being set by Bayern.
Julian Draxler scored once and set up Klaas-Jan Huntelaar for another as Schalke prepped for its return to Champions League action with a 2-0 victory over Hertha Berlin in the evening kickoff. The win made new boss Roberto DiMatteo a winner in his first match in charge of the Gelsenkirchen side.
Draxler’s cross after Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting won a battle for possession found Huntelaar for a strong, snap header 19 minutes into the match, then the German international struck from 18 yards with the help of a deflection in the 65th minute.
The win lifted Schalke to eighth place but they remain nine points adrift of the leaders.
Elsewhere, Borussia Moenchengladbach stayed four points behind Bayern, Max Kruse scoring twice in a 3-0 success at Hannover; VfL Wolfsburg used two goals from Daniel Caligiuri to win 2-1 at Freiburg; and Mainz 05 stayed third in the table with a 2-1 win over Augsburg.
It was all over by the interval in Munich where Bayern turned the screw in the final 25 minutes of the first half.
Philipp Lahm started the rout in the 20th minute when he buried a 20-yard chance from the top right edge of the box, the ball rebounding to him off Thomas Mueller’s attempt to meet a swerving David Alaba cross from the left.
Xabi Alonso made it 2-0 eight minutes later when he hit a low free kick from the top right that got under the wall and into the left corner. Then came disaster for the visitors as they coughed up two goals just before the interval.
First, Sebastian Proedl brought down Mueller at the top of the box and Mueller made no mistake with his 43rd minute penalty. Then, on the stroke of halftime, Mario Goetze left Assani Lukimya for dead at the top left, turned and shot to the far corner to send the champions into their break with a 4-0 cushion.
Lahm collected his second and Bayern’s fifth in the 80th minute, on the spot to complete a move that Mueller began and Xherdan Shaqiri kept going. Goetze, with an 18-yard strike in the 86th minute, completely the lost Saturday for Werder Bremen, who remain buried at the bottom of the league, winless in eight starts.
Leverkusen used two goals in the first 10 minutes from their South Korean attacker Heung-min Son to take the early lead at troubled VfB Stuttgart.
Son’s first came in the fourth minute after Stefan Kiessling beat Georg Neiedermeier in the center of the box and played the ball into the scorer’s path. The 10th-minute strike would have been outstanding anywhere, Son chesting down an attempted clearance some 24 yards out, taking one stride forward before smashing the finish to the far corner.
Karim Bellarabi’s 42nd minute goal was a terrific individual effort as he wove his way past three defenders on the right side before finishing. Son gave him the pass to start the whole thing.
Timo Werner’s header got one back for VfB in the 57th minute before Florian Klein’s drive from 20 yards through some traffic found the low right corner and turned up the heat on the visitors with 25 minutes left.
It was Martin Harnik, alone at the far post and virtually on the goal line, who headed Stuttgart level in the 77th minute, nodding in the feed from Filip Kostic from the right.
Kevin Vogt’s first half goal started the misery for Dortmund, who let Vogt have an open path down the middle as he chased down Marcel Risse’s header forward from just inside the halfway line. Vogt looked up, spotted Roman Weidenfeller advancing and finished from the 18-yard line.
The Dortmund attack did not ignite until Reus caught Vogt in possession in the 48th minute and was able to send Ciro Immobile in.
Then came a shocker of a deciding goal, Simon Zoller completely alone to tap home in the 74th minute when Weidenfeller missed a cross from the right by Yuya Osako. Dortmund was appealing for offside while Weidenfeller appeared in two minds, neither grabbing the cross nor kicking it away. Zoller couldn’t miss and didn’t.
Gladbach got on top in the 14th minute thanks to a neat headed finish by Kruse from Alvaro Dominguez’ cross from the left. Raffael had helped get things started by finding Alvaro in space. A fine Granit Xhaka free kick in the 50th minute gave the visitors some breathing space, the Swiss international smacking his top right award past the last player in the wall and into the far left corner. Kruse then sealed the deal in the 90th minute with a first-time lob from the top right that sailed into an open top net.
Caligiuri’s neat, first-time finish at the far post to a Kevin DeBruyne cross in the ninth minute gave Wolfsburg their early lead. Luis Gustavo just missed making it two for the visitors in the 35th minute, but his well-conceived strike went past the far post.
Caligiuri got his second in the 66th minute after Freiburg’s Mike Frantz had a real opportunity blocked in defense. This time Caligiuri found space in the top left of the box and curled a shot to the right corner that eluded Roman Buerkl’s diving save attempt.
A Sebastian Kerk free kick in stoppage time was Freiburg’s only reply.
Two quick goals got Mainz on top against Augsburg. Jonas Hofmann opened the account in the 21st minute, then Jairo was allowed far too much space in the middle of the box before making it 2-0 three minutes later. Tobias Werner got Augsburg a 77th minute lifeline when he finished from Abdul Baba’s cross.