Bayern Munich captain Manuel Neuer hailed Robert Lewandowski as a scoring “machine” after the Poland striker claimed his 300th Bundesliga goal with a hat-trick as the German league leaders thrashed Cologne 4-0 on Saturday.
The champions restored their six-point advantage after Borussia Dortmund had cut the gap with a 5-1 thumping of Freiburg on Friday.
Visitors Bayern, almost back to full strength after nine players missed the previous weekend’s home loss to Borussia Moenchengladbach following positive Covid tests, raced into a 2-0 lead with goals by Lewandowski and Corentin Tolisso.
“After the defeat against Moenchengladbach, it was important for us to get our first points this year,” Neuer told Sky Sport.
Lewandowski reached the 300 mark by netting twice in the second half, with both assists provided by substitute Leroy Sane.
Only Bayern and West Germany legend Gerd Mueller, who died last year, scored more Bundesliga goals with 365.
“We are happy and grateful to have Robert – he is a machine up front,” added Neuer.
Lewandowski opened the scoring with some slick finishing before Tolisso doubled Bayern’s lead by thumping his shot into the top corner from 16 metres out.
Cologne looked to have clawed a goal back through Mark Uth, but the VAR spotted he was offside.
The scored stayed 2-0 until Leroy Sane, one of the players who missed the Gladbach loss, came on and carved holes in Cologne’s defence for Lewandowski’s next two goals.
Sane’s pass put Lewandowski in behind the defence for his second goal.
Eight minutes later, Sane again danced through Cologne’s midfield before putting Lewandowski into position to tuck away his 23rd league effort this season.
Lewandowski has scored in 15 of Bayern’s 19 league games and is on course to break his own record of 41 Bundesliga goals in a single season, which he set last May.
Leverkusen win at Gladbach
Later, Bayer Leverkusen regained third spot behind Dortmund with a 2-1 victory at Moenchengladbach despite Patrick Schick and Kerem Demirbay both having second-half penalty attempts saved by Gladbach keeper Yann Sommer.
Schick was first denied by Sommer’s superb diving save only for Leverkusen midfielder Robert Andrich to score from the resulting corner.
Schick then made amends for his penalty miss by heading in a free-kick.
Gladbach clawed a late goal back when Nico Elvedi tapped in after a goal-mouth scramble just before another great Sommer save denied Demirbay’s spot kick.
Sommer took no consolation from his double penalty saves.
“The result is disappointing,” he said glumly with Gladbach four points above the bottom three after their third straight home defeat.
“We are where we are – and rightly so.”
Union Berlin fought back for a 2-1 home win over Hoffenheim as Andreas Voglsammer and Grischa Proemel scored for the hosts after an own goal by team-mate Timo Baumgartl.
RB Leipzig continued their climb, rising to seventh with a 2-0 win at Stuttgart as Portugal striker Andre Silva bagged his fifth goal in as many league games.
Silva, who also scored a brace in the previous weekend’s home win over Mainz, converted an early penalty after a handball by Stuttgart defender Konstantinos Mavropanos.
Leipzig doubled their tally with a superb counter-attack from their own box when Benjamin Henrichs put Christopher Nkunku away and the French winger fired home with 20 minutes left.
Wolfsburg ended their run of six straight league defeats with a goalless draw at home to Hertha Berlin.