Created on 17-02-2008 at 00:00 AM
A masterclass in finishing by prolific hitman Luca Toni wrapped up an ultimately comfortable twelfth win of the season for Bayern on Sunday.
A 49,000 full house at the AWD Arena saw the league leaders increasingly hit their stride and create a number of presentable openings as the first half wore on, but the home defence held firm and the game was goalless at the break.
That all changed in a whirlwind six minutes around the hour mark as Toni rattled up a quickfire brace to put the visitors firmly in the driving seat. The Italian rounded off a virtuoso performance by completing his hat-trick eight minutes from time, taking his total for the season to an astounding 22 goals in 25 competitive appearances for Bayern.
The result restores Munich's three-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga standings with FCB now on 43 points from 20 matches, ahead of Werder Bremen in second and Hamburg a further three points back.
Five new faces for Reds
Munich boss Ottmar Hitzfeld made five changes to the side held 2-2 by Aberdeen in the UEFA Cup. Fit-again trio Oliver Kahn, Willy Sagnol and Mark van Bommel were restored to the side in place of Michael Rensing, Christian Lell and Andreas Ottl, with Philipp Lahm starting for the rested Marcell Jansen.
At centre-half, Daniel van Buyten came in for the injured Martin Demichelis, while home coach Dieter Hecking handed a competitive debut to Valerien Ismael, Van Buyten’s central defensive partner at Bayern a couple of seasons ago but new on the Hannover staff since January.
The home side began brightly and there was a scare for the Bavarians when Lahm inadvertently nodded an attempted back-pass over Kahn’s head, but Hannover hitman Mike Hanke could only return the ball from a tight angle into the six-yard box where Van Buyten cleared the danger.
The visitors, anchored resolutely by Van Bommel and with Hamit Altintop a busy presence on the right, gradually assumed control midway through the half and Miro Klose forced home keeper Robert Enke into a first meaningful save, before Toni’s header narrowly failed to clear the shot-stopper and Altintop fired across the face of goal.
Enke smothered Van Bommel’s drive, before the Dutch enforcer looked to the heavens in despair after firing wide from the best move of the half, a slick interchange initiated by Van Buyten and helped on by Altintop.
Luca’s quickfire brace
The sides came out for the second period clearly determined to up the tempo and there was goalmouth action at both ends, Toni and Bastian Schweinsteiger almost combining for Munich and Hanke rifling a shot into Kahn’s midriff. Referee Dr Markus Merk despatched Hecking to the stands for a word out of place, before Enke reacted brilliantly to tip Klose’s header over the bar.
But Bayern, and Toni in particular, were not to be denied for long. The prolific striker opened the scoring on 58 minutes with a touch to control, a swivel and a volley in one flowing movement after Van Bommel’s determined header left the Hannover defence rooted to the spot, before the Italian doubled the lead just six minutes later with a clinical finish from Schweinsteiger’s defence-splitting pass.
Ze Roberto, quietly efficient as usual, almost netted a rare headed goal in between Toni’s double strike, but the undisputed man of the match was destined to have the final word with a neat looping header to complete a world-class hat-trick after Enke initially denied the Italian from another fine Schweinsteiger assist.
Live match report for fcbayern.de by Chris Hamley