Borussia Dortmund reclaimed some of the Bundesliga’s bragging rights after crushing champions Bayern Munich 3-0 on Saturday with a stellar performance to claim victory in the league’s showcase encounter.
Just three days after they beat Real Madrid 2-0, but were eliminated from the UEFA Champions League last eight 3-2 on aggregate, Dortmund confirmed their battling spirit by inflicting the heaviest defeat in coach Pep Guardiola’s career.
For the Bavarians, already crowned German champions, the defeat was their second in a row in the league after a record 53-game unbeaten run in former Barcelona coach Guardiola’s first season in charge.
Bayern also had Brazilian Rafinha sent off for slapping Henrikh Mkhitaryan in stoppage-time.
“This has been an extraordinary week, with wins over Real and Bayern, and we did it in a fantastic way,” Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp told reporters. “Maybe our opponents were lacking a percentage or two because they are already champions. We wanted to do a lot and we did most of the things we set out to do. It was extremely hard work.”
The visitors took a 21st-minute lead when Mkhitaryan slotted home after some good play, the Armenian making up for a string of missed chances in the defeat against Real.
The midfielder, who apologized to teammates and fans for his midweek lapses, kept his cool after Marco Reus sent him through with a fine pass.
Bayern, who face Real in the Champions League last four, were further hampered when goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was taken off at halftime with a calf-muscle injury, making way for third-choice goalkeeper Lukas Raeder.
The 20-year-old’s league debut got off to a nightmare start after 49 minutes when Mkhitaryan launched a quick break and Reus tapped in with the goalkeeper out of position.
Raeder could do nothing, though, when Jonas Hofmann broke free after a deep cross from Sokratis Papastathopoulos to rifle in Dortmund’s third in the 56th minute as the 71,000-crowd at the Allianz Arena fell silent.
Bayern tried desperately to hit back, but they rarely got past a solid Dortmund defense and were reduced to long-range efforts which sailed wide.
“The title has been decided and we cut back a bit,” Guardiola said. “I think it is a problem that we won the league. My goal as a coach is to build my team up again. Maybe I even made a mistake by saying that the title race was finished.”
With the title sewn up and a place in the Champions League last four, Bayern face second-division Kaiserslautern in the semi-finals of the DFB Pokal on Wednesday and are still on track to repeat their unprecedented treble of last season.
Dortmund, in second place, kept their three-point lead over Schalke 04, who beat Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 on Friday, with four games left.
At the other end of the table, former champions VfB Stuttgart conceded an 89th-minute goal to draw 1-1 at Borussia Moenchengladbach and remain deep in the relegation battle.
Midfielder Daniel Didavi, who was only picked to play at the last minute, slotted in from close range after 12 minutes to give Stuttgart the lead.
The visitors were far more aggressive than ’Gladbach and hit the post on 87 minutes through Ibrahima Traore’s fierce free-kick, but two minutes later they let their guard down and Juan Arango headed the equalizer.
Stuttgart, champions in 2006-2007, are on 28 points, one above Hamburg SV, who lost 2-1 at Hannover 96 courtesy of a late winner from Didier Ya Konan to remain in the relegation playoff spot.