Robert Lewandowski took Bayern Munich's star ensemble another step towards the final with a historic hat-trick show in the Champions League.
When captain Manuel Neuer made his comeback in goal, the Polish world footballer only needed eleven splendid minutes in the 7-1 (4-0) win against Austria's early defeated champions Red Bull Salzburg on Tuesday evening to score two ice-cold penalty kicks (12th/21st minute) and Season goal number twelve in the premier class (23rd) to open the door to the quarterfinals.
Serge Gnabry (31st), Thomas Müller (54th/83rd) and Leroy Sané (86th) gave four more encores in front of 25,000 celebrating spectators in the Allianz Arena.
Salzburg's fine honorary goal by Maurits Kjaergaard (71') ended up being a blemish that only bothered the returning Neuer.
Three weeks after the meager 1-1 draw in Salzburg, Bayern were otherwise back in European form after taking the lead.
Seven wins and 30:5 goals after eight premier class games awaken dreams of the title.
The playful lightness that had been missing recently returned.
The quarterfinals will be drawn on March 18th.
"If we get through, the season can be an extremely good one," leader Thomas Müller said before the game.
A good prophecy.
At the start of the game, all eyes in the arena were on Manuel Neuer.
The captain led Bayern again just four weeks after undergoing surgery on his right knee.
And the 35-year-old experienced - despite conceding - a pleasant comeback evening.
But the main role was played by Lewandowski.
In the very first minute, the goalscorer tested Salzburg goalkeeper Philipp Köhn.
Coach Julian Nagelsmann relied on his entire offensive band and only three defenders in the back three he loved.
"In the end, it's about bringing the players in the best form onto the pitch," Nagelsmann explained his approach to Amazon Prime.
It also went well because winger Kingsley Coman was able to just clear a big chance from Nicolas Capaldo in his own penalty area, prepared by Munich-born Karim Adeyemi (2').
The agile Coman, already a last-minute goal scorer in the first leg, then also initiated the 1-0.
Lewandowski took his cross with brilliant technique, Salzburg's Maximilian Wöber had to foul.
Müller also hits twice
Lewandowski shot the penalty flat into the left corner.
When it was 2-0, it was almost the same game: Lewandowski was fouled by Wöber again.
And again the Pole chose the left corner, Köhn dived to the other side.
In the 3-0 after a pass from Müller, Bayern's super striker was lucky that goalkeeper Köhn, who was falling out, slammed the ball in his leg.
Wöber was also the unfortunate godfather.
Lewandowski's hat-trick after 22 minutes was the fastest in Champions League history.
The last was Lewandowski in the 6-0 win against Red Star Belgrade in November 2019, when he even scored four times within a quarter of an hour.
But it was more important in a knockout game against the young Salzburgers, who brutally pushed their limits but didn't give up.
After the early clarification of the balance of power in his coaching zone, Bayern coach Nagelsmann was able to watch his eleven show off without any pressure.
RB goalkeeper Köhn slipped Gnabry's durable shot under his right hand.
And three days after his first career own goal in the 1-1 draw against Leverkusen, Müller celebrated two goals with what was actually a weaker foot.
It was his Champions League goals 51 and 52. More are to follow in the two knockout rounds before the final on May 28 in Paris.Keywords: