Bayern Munich moved closer to their first title in three years after extending their lead at the top of the Bundesliga to 15 points on Saturday following a 4-0 rout of Schalke 04 at the Allianz Arena.
With neither of their rivals Borussia Dortmund nor Bayer 04 Leverkusen having picked up wins earlier, Bayern were irresistible in Munich, with 20-year-old Austrian wunderkind David Alaba claiming two goals.
“The most important thing was picking up the three points,” leftback Alaba said. “We had fun and joked in the dressing room, and you could see that on the pitch.”
May 2010 was the last time Bayern won a title after Louis van Gaal steered them to the league and cup double, but this year’s Bundesliga title is now theirs to lose.
Having enjoyed 70 percent possession, Munich lived up to German daily Bild’s mocking headline “Bayern are having open training today against Schalke,” with the Royal Blues having won just once in their past nine league games.
It proved to be prophetic as Schalke’s lone striker Teemu Pukki found himself hopelessly isolated up front with his side unable to create a single shot on target and forced to defend against seemingly endless waves of Bayern attacks.
France winger Franck Ribery won an early penalty when he darted through the Schalke defense and was brought down by Marco Hoeger.
Alaba showed his rising status by stepping up and drilling home the 19th-minute spot-kick.
Germany international Bastian Schweinsteiger proved the ankle injury — which kept him from playing in last week’s 2-1 win over France in Paris — was not an issue by curling home a free-kick on 32 minutes to make it 2-0 at the break.
Alaba netted his second on 51 minutes after a pass from striker Mario Gomez, who grabbed his first goal of the year in his first start on 63 minutes.
Defending champions Borussia Dortmund lost 4-1 at home to Hamburg SV, with South Korea’s Son Heung-min scoring twice as both teams finished with 10 men.
Having lost 3-2 at Hamburg in September last year, Dortmund were stunned at their Signal Iduna Park home in front of a bumper crowd of 80,645.
Poland international striker Robert Lewandowski put Dortmund ahead in the first half, only to be sent off a quarter of an hour later as Hamburg roared back with goals from Son and Latvian Artjoms Rudnevs.
The numbers were evened up when Hamburg’s Dutch defender Jeffrey Bruma was shown a straight red for bringing down Marco Reus when he was clear on goal after 59 minutes, but Hamburg recovered from that blow as Rudnevs headed home on 62 minutes and then Son’s 89th-minute strike completed the rout as he turned in Marcell Jansen’s pass to move Hamburg up to fifth.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen remain third after they drew 3-3 at Borussia Moenchengladbach after the lead changed hands three times, before an 86th-minute equalizer by Moenchengladbach’s Patrick Herrmann shared the points.
Hannover 96’s Senegalese striker Mame Diouf added to TSG 1899 Hoffenheim’s woes with a first-half winner in their 1-0 home victory, while Chelsea’s Kevin de Bruyne, on loan at Werder Bremen, scored the final goal in his team’s 4-1 win at VfB Stuttgart.
Bottom side SpVgg Greuther Furth went down 1-0 at home to VfL Wolfsburg, while Eintracht Frankfurt stayed fourth despite their 0-0 draw at home to Nuremberg.