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Hertha Berlin 1 Bayern 3

Super Bayern seal fastest-ever title in style

Super Bayern sealed their 24th German championship in typically dominant style on Tuesday with an emphatic 3-1 victory over outclassed Hertha BSC Berlin. The Reds’ superiority on the night epitomised a record-breaking Bundesliga campaign already crowned by the earliest-ever title triumph in league history with seven games still to play. For the record, Tuesday’s win was Bayern’s 19th on the trot in the Bundesliga and means the treble winners are unbeaten in their last 52 league games.

The 76,197 full house at the Olympic Stadium saw Toni Kroos and Mario Götze hand the rampant Reds a match-winning lead within the first quarter of an hour, after which Pep Guardiola’s men entered the comfort zone and lazily controlled the possession and pace against their cowed opponents. However, FCB failed to add to their advantage and conceded midway through the second half when Adrian Ramos netted a penalty for the home side, but sub Franck Ribery restored the two-goal lead 11 minutes from time to make absolutely sure of the title-winning victory.

A 25th win from 27 matches this term means FCB now have 77 points, 25 clear of second-placed Dortmund with only 21 still to play for. The Bavarians now go home for the meeting with Hoffenheim in Munich on Saturday, an event with no real significance in terms of the standings but which is sure to be a joyous celebration of a record-breaking league campaign.

Dante, Götze and Rafinha return

Guardiola made three changes to the team from the 2-0 victory away to Mainz at the weekend. Dante took over from Javi Martinez at centre-back, Götze replaced Ribery in wide midfield, and Rafinha came in for Mario Mandzukic, although obviously not in a like-for-like swap: the Brazilian took up station at right-back as usual with Philipp Lahm pushed forward into midfield and Thomas Müller up front.

FCB began with Manuel Neuer in goal, Rafinha, Jerome Boateng, Dante and David Alaba in defence, Bastian Schweinsteiger and captain Lahm in central midfield, Götze and Arjen Robben on the flanks, and Kroos in the hole behind lone striker Müller.

Hertha coach Jos Lukuhay was less than optimistic in the build-up, insisting the team in ninth had only a “ten percent chance” of defeating the treble winners. The Dutchman fielded a young line-up, although there was experience too in the shape of captain Levan Kobiashvili in defence and former FCB keeper Thomas Kraft between the sticks.

All Bayern in the first half

Just six minutes after referee Marco Fritz blew for kick-off, the Reds had the lead when Schweinsteiger released Müller down the inside-left channel. The Germany international backheeled into the danger zone, where Berlin stopper Christoph Janker only half-cleared and the unmarked Kroos fired cleanly past Kraft from the edge of the box.

Even after such a short time Munich were so utterly dominant that the lead was fully deserved, and the league leaders duly made it two in the 14th minute. Kroos sprayed a diagonal pass to Rafinha, who found Schweinsteiger in space just outside the penalty area. The midfielder crossed for the diminutive Götze to net a rare headed goal.

Guardiola’s men now passed the ball among themselves at leisure with the home side still pulling nine men back behind the ball. Chances came and went from time to time, Müller just failing to get a shot off after superbly controlling on his chest, Robben earning a corner after a pacy dart to the line, and Kraft diving to claim a dangerous ball into the box from the lively Dutchman.

The next clear-cut chance came on 38 minutes when Rafinha expertly switched the play to the charging Alaba, who picked out Götze at the far post. The starlet chipped the ball back to Müller, but the striker’s header rebounded off the bar. The pace slowed for a spell now as the sides settled for what they had and the game meandered to the break.

Rib wraps it up

Kraft saved from Robben in the first chance of the second period, before Dante failed to get power behind a header and Kobiashvili received a stern ticking off from referee Fritz for a crude foul on Schweinsteiger. Guardiola made a double substitution on 54 minutes, although there was no loss of quality in the slightest as Müller and Robben gave way to Mandzukic and Ribery.

Munich picked up the pace again on the hour, Mandzukic drawing a good save from Kraft with a low shot, Alaba shooting over the bar, and Ribery just failing to play in Götze. Thiago replaced Schweinsteiger, but out of the blue Hertha pulled one back in the 66th minute when Rafinha was adjudged to have fouled Ramos in the box, the Colombian picking himself up and sending Neuer the wrong way from the spot.

Munich were stung into action and made it 3-1 in the 79th minute when Götze robbed Janker and spurted towards goal before passing to Ribery, who spotted Kraft charging off his line and coolly chipped the keeper to make the game safe. That was that in the German capital as the FCB stars began a night of celebration with the loyal travelling support.

Live match report for fcbayern.de by Chris Hamley

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