Allianz Arena, January 22 - Bayern Munich rose to third place in the Bundesliga after an ultimately convincing 5-1 thrashing of Kaiserslautern. Top scorer, Mario Gomez, continued his goal-scoring frenzy with a second-half hat-trick. 'Super Mario' has now racked up 15 Bundesliga goals in 17 games.
The first-half fare did little to warm a full house at an Antarctic Allianz Arena with the mid-table visitors more than a match for the champions. 15 million Euro Brazilian recruit Luiz Gustavo made his home debut after signing from Hoffenheim. New first-choice keeper Thomas Kraft saved well from Croatian Ivo Ilicevic to keep the scores level on 44 minutes.
The Bavarians were spared the indignity of perhaps being booed off at half-time by a moment of brilliance by the fit-again Arjen Robben, making his first start in eight months. 'The Flying Dutchman' latched on to an inch-perfect ball from Thomas Müller, skipped past the on-rushing visiting keeper Tobias Sippel and neatly slotted home on the half-time whistle.
Robben turned provider just after the break to double the advantage. The ex-Chelsea and Real Madrid winger showed off his full repertoire of mazy dribbling skills, easily gliding past a whole host of defenders to find Bastian Schweinsteiger steaming into the box. The German midfielder had time to find Gomez, who could not miss from close range.
FCK reduced the deficit on 62 minutes taking advantage of a miskick from Ukrainian Anatoliy Tymoshchuk. Czech Republic midfielder Jan Moravek left Kraft with no chance, firing home on 62 minutes. With the Red Devils chasing an equaliser, the double winners' were clinical on the break. Gomez sealed his hat-trick with two composed finishes (80, 86) before Müller applied the final gloss to the goal-fest by netting in stoppage time.
FCB sealed their seventh home win of the season and cut the deficit on runaway leaders Borussia Dortmund to 'only' fourteen points! Coach Louis van Gaal was pleased with the win: "We're third and on the right track.'' If Robben can stay fit (and his injury track-record demonstrates it's a massive "if"), Bayern will still feel they can make inroads into Dortmund's seemingly insurmountable lead.
The Reds will now switch their attention to retaining their German Cup title. The 15-times winners travel to 2nd division side Alemennia Aachen for a tricky quarter-final tie on Wednesday (20:30 kickoff).