Schalke gave its second dreadful performance of the week as a Thomas Muller inspired Bayern tore it to shreds, putting FC Hollywood back into the third Champions League placeBayern Munich has put itself back into pole position for the third and final Champions League spot with a convincing 3-1 win over a hapless Schalke side, still shellshocked from its midweek excursions against Manchester United. Bayern's three goals in the opening 20 minutes laid the foundation for a straightforward three points.
It took a mere five minutes for Bayern to open the scoring. Hans Sarpei initially gave the ball away before Thomas Muller then picked the pocket of Anthony Annan down Bayern's right. Muller raced down the right before picking out Arjen Robben, who stroked the ball past Manuel Neuer to celebrate his return from suspension with his tenth league goal of the season.
Schalke capitalized on a Bayern error of its own to equalize in the eighth minute. After a short corner, Jefferson Farfan whipped a tantalizing cross into the six-yard box. Hans-Jorg Butt looked as if he would come and punch the ball clear, However, the veteran was caught ball-watching and under pressure from Joel Matip, Holger Badstuber clumsily bundled the ball over his own goal-line.
Just five minutes later, last season's Bundesliga champions restored the lead. Bayern was awarded a free-kick after Christoph Metzelder's foul on Robben. The Dutch winger could only find the wall with his strike but the ball ricocheted to Muller, who found the near corner with his left-footed shot that gave Neuer no chance.
Capitalizing on a frankly hopeless Schalke defense, Bayern added a third before 20 minutes were up. Robben lifted the ball into the box on his left foot enticing Neuer out of his goal. However, he was outfoxed by Muller's smart header over the German number-one, which was helped into the unguarded net by Mario Gomez. Gomez, with 24 goals, is now two clear of Freiburg's Papiss Demba Cisse at the top of the goalscoring charts.
The outstanding Thomas Muller rounded off another virtuoso performance with just over six minutes remaining of normal time. His initial shot had been kept out by a desperate lunge from Kyriakos Papadopoulos before the number 25 found the bottom corner of the net with his rebound. He then received a warm round of applause as he was replaced by Toni Kroos.
Bayern ran Schalke ragged in the first half and could have scored even more goals. Franck Ribery's outrageous flick to Muller on the half hour led to the World Cup 2010 sensation playing in Robben, whose effort was cleared off the line by Metzelder. Ribery and Gomez spurned further chances as the visitors could not take the ball off a rampant Bayern.
Ralf Rangnick rang the changes at the interval, bringing on Edu and Alexander Baumjohann but his side was devoid of any movement in attack and completely bereft of creativity. Neuer reminded everyone of his ability when he made a superb save on 74 minutes to deny Robben, who had burst through the center of Schalke's rearguard.
Andries Jonker's side travels north to Hamburg next week to meet a St Pauli side which looks to be slipping out of the top flight. Schalke travels to Old Trafford for its Champions League semifinal second leg before hosting Mainz next weekend in Gelsenkirchen.
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