Bayern Munich 4-1 Hoffenheim: Flick's champions run riot to extend Bundesliga lead

By Sports Desk January 30, 2021

Robert Lewandowski scored one goal and made another as Bayern Munich increased their lead at the top of the Bundesliga with a 4-1 victory over Hoffenheim.

The defending champions nosed, briefly at least, 10 points ahead of RB Leipzig as they aim to secure a ninth successive title.

Hoffenheim offered plenty of threat and Ihlas Bebou should have done better with two gilt-edged chances, with his profligacy punished by Jerome Boateng and Thomas Muller.

Bebo atoned by teeing up Andrej Kramaric to volley in his first away league goal at Bayern on the stroke of half-time, but quickfire strikes from Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry ensured a fourth straight Bundesliga win for Hansi Flick's team.

Hoffenheim stunned Bayern 4-1 early in the campaign and Bebou could have put them ahead in the opening stages on Saturday, but Manuel Neuer came to the hosts' rescue.

Though Muller hit the crossbar at the other end, it was Hoffenheim who should have taken the lead – Bebou heading wide from close range – and he was made to pay in the 32nd minute when Boateng headed in Joshua Kimmich's outswinging corner.

Bayern seemed to be heading into half-time with a two-goal cushion when Muller's rather scuffed effort at the culmination of Lewandowski's mazy run found its way into the bottom-right corner, yet Hoffenheim struck back 74 seconds later when Kramajic steered Bebou's cross beyond Neuer.

Unperturbed by conceding, Bayern were straight back on the front foot after the restart and their third goal came shortly before the hour, with Lewandowski on hand to capitalise on poor defending.

Kingsley Coman's cross had caused havoc in the build-up to Lewandowski's 24th league goal of 2020-21 and the Frenchman turned provider again six minutes later as he slipped in Gnabry to wrap up the points.

Benjamin Pavard thought he had added further gloss with a sensational strike from 20 yards out, only for VAR to disallow it due to Leroy Sane drifting offside, with Neuer pulling off an exceptional save to deny Pavel Kaderabek a late consolation.

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    South Africa levelled the four-match Twenty20 series against Pakistan at 1-1 thanks to a convincing six-wicket win at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.

    The Proteas - minus their Indian Premier League stars - had slipped to defeat in the opening game on Saturday but recovered impressively from that setback, with a disciplined bowling performance restricting their opponents to 140-9.

    Aidan Markram led the reply with 54 from 30 balls and while there was a mid-innings wobble as they slipped to 98-4, the hosts still cruised to their victory target with six overs to spare.

    Stand-in captain Heinrich Klaasen finished up unbeaten on 36, while George Linde was 20 not out from just 10 deliveries to complete a fine all-round performance.

    Mohammad Rizwan had starred in Pakistan's successful run chase at the weekend, making an unbeaten 74, but fell for a first-ball duck this time.

    The recalled Sharjeel Khan – playing his first international game since January 2017 – also departed early for eight, leaving the score at 10-2 in the third over of an innings that simply never gained momentum.

    Skipper Babar Azam made 50 at a run-a-ball rate and Mohammad Hafeez contributed 32, the pair adding 58 for the third wicket.

    However, three wickets apiece for Linde – who opened the bowling with his left-arm spin - and Lizaad Williams restricted Pakistan's final score. Tabraiz Shamsi also played his part with the ball, recording figures of 1-22 from his four overs.

    The two teams meet again in the third T20 at Centurion on Wednesday, with the series concluding at the same venue two days later.


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    Rizwan had posted scores of 74 not out, 42, 51, 104 not out and 89 in his previous five T20 appearances for Pakistan. However, the impressive run of form came to a rapid halt on Monday.

    The wicketkeeper-batsman fell to the first ball of the game, an ambitious attempt to hit Linde over the top only providing catching practice for Markram at mid-off.

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    The opening batsman has hit back-to-back half-centuries in the format now, furthering his case for a spot in the full-strength line-up ahead of the T20 World Cup later in the year.

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    Mbappe was the star of the show in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final tie between Bayern and Paris Saint-Germain, scoring twice as the holders were beaten 3-2 in Germany.

    Should the 22-year-old score in the return fixture in Paris, he will become the first French player to reach nine goals in a single Champions League season.

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    "He will win the Ballon d'Or one day, I am absolutely convinced of that," said Flick. "He has everything. He is fast, he has good technique and – most importantly – he scores a lot of goals."

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    "Neymar and Mbappe usually stay up front, they don't defend but they stay in a dangerous situation for a counter-attacking chance. You're never going to be able to keep them out of the game completely."

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    Only three of the previous 50 teams to lose the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie have gone through to the next round, but one such instance involved PSG, when they were stunned by Manchester United at the last-16 stage two seasons ago.

    "We had many chances in the first leg, but weren't so clinical. We have to do better. We know it won't be easy, but we will give everything," said Flick.

    "We know we have to score at least two goals. It will be a tough task, but these are the games we play football for. We want to cause a mini upset in Paris. Of course, we'll be delighted if we manage that."

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    Lewandowski suffered damage to his right knee while on international duty with Poland in March, ruling him out of both games against PSG in the Champions League quarter-final tie.

    However, Bayern were able to provide a positive update on Monday, with the 32-year-old resuming running duties at the club's training facilities.

    In his absence, the reigning European champions were wasteful in the first meeting with their French opponents last week, resulting in a 3-2 loss on home soil.

    Hansi Flick's side had 31 attempts, the most in a single Champions League fixture since the start of the 2003-04 campaign. Their expected goals (xG) value of 3.8 was the highest for a team in the competition this season.

    Thomas Muller accepts Bayern must be more ruthless in the return fixture in the French capital, but he is confident they have the quality – even without Lewandowski, who has scored 42 goals in all competitions this season – to turn the situation around and seal a place in the last four.

    "We'll approach the game as we normally do," Muller told the media.

    "It's important to balance risks in individual situations. We won't be going all-out-attack from the off, but we will try to score an early goal.

    "We would be happy to have as many chances [as in the first leg]. We need to make better decisions in critical moments. We have done some analysis and I hope we can implement it.

    "Unfortunately, we have suffered a few injuries, but we feel we have the quality and are mentally capable of turning the game around."

    While Lewandowski is a certain absentee, Flick confirmed in his press conference that Lucas Hernandez, Jerome Boateng, Leon Goretzka and Kingsley Coman had all trained with the squad on Monday, adding: "We assume that those who trained can play."

    Only three of the last 50 teams to lose the first leg at home in a Champions League knockout tie have managed to progress, albeit one of those occasions came when PSG were knocked out by Manchester United at the last-16 stage in 2019.

    Bayern have been eliminated in each of the last four instances when losing the first leg, all coming in consecutive seasons between 2014-15 and 2017-18.

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