This fixture was billed as much as Erling Haaland v Robert Lewandowski as the Bundesliga’s two most decorated sides going head-to-head. Rarely though do such individual battles form the main narrative to such an extent as these two goal-machines managed to achieve at the Allianz Arena.
The match was never going to decide who would take the psychological advantage into the remainder of the season given the very real possibility that Borussia Dortmund could miss out on Champions League qualification while Bayern are now 16 points better off than their rivals and top of the table.
But the thrashings handed out by Bayern Munich to Dortmund in recent years in this fixture on home turf has always served up drama and the most high-profile players making their mark. This Klassiker meeting was no different in that sense, albeit the result mirrors the champions’ recent hegemony of the Bundesliga.
Robert Lewandowski’s hat-trick saw Bayern Munich return to the top of the Bundesliga with a 4-2 win in Der Klassiker
Erling Haaland gave Borussia Dortmund the lead after 74 seconds with a deflected strike
Seven minutes later he doubled his tally after tapping home Thorgan Hazard’s cut-back
Robert Lewandowski scored his 18th goal against his former club from Leroy Sane’s cross
So rarely though has Lewandowski – now just nine goals short of Gerd Muller’s record of 40 in a German top-flight season – had to share the limelight on such occasions. With the likes of Jadon Sancho and Giovanni Reyna out injured, the focus – even more than usual – turned to Haaland, and there was no surprise that the 20-year-old welcomed the added attention with open arms.
Bayern Munich (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Sule, Boateng (Martinez 70), Alaba, Davies; Kimmich, Goretzka; Sane (Hernandez 90+1), Muller (Choupo-Moting 90+1), Coman (Gnabry 66); Lewandowski
Subs not used: Hoffmann, Sarr, Roca, Dantas, Musiala
Goals: Lewandowski 26, 44 (pen), 90, Goretzka 88
Borussia Dortmund (4-2-3-1): Hitz; Meunier, Hummels, Zagadou (Morey 70), Schulz; Can, Delaney (Bellingham 70); Reus (Reinier 76), Dahoud, Hazard (Brandt 60); Haaland (Tigges 60)
Subs not used: Burki, Moukoko, Piszczek, Passlack
Goals: Haaland 2, 9
Referee: Marco Fritz
Just 74 seconds into the game, he had arrowed an effort which clipped off the boot of Jerome Boateng into the bottom right corner.
Seven minutes later, he was on hand to tap home his seventh goal in his last six games from Thorgan Hazard’s cut-back after Nico Schulz’s positive run.
Thomas Meunier was handed the golden opportunity to make it 3-0 but opted to pass rather than shoot. But that profligacy was readily remembered when Lewandowski did what he does best.
Rarely does the Polish marksman find an opposition striker outscoring and outperforming him, particularly in this fixture.
The Pole had scored 17 goals in his last 13 Bundesliga games against his former club prior to the meeting, and was not going to cheaply surrender his dominance against Dortmund to the man who could be his long-term successor at Bayern.
No 18 arrived shortly after Belgian Meunier’s wastefulness, finishing Leroy Sane’s cross high into the net and kept onside by Dan-Axel Zagadou.
The fire in Bayern’s belly had been ignited belatedly, and there seemed to be a certain inevitability that a second would arrive, with Marwin Hitz forced into a good low save from Kingsley Coman.
But the Frenchman would record the most unofficial of assists when Mahmoud Dahoud – Dortmund’s standout player in recent games – made contact with the top of his boot inside the area, and following a consultation with the VAR monitor, Marco Fritz pointed to the spot.
The Lewandowski stutter arrived. But so did the composure from the spot, and there has been little this season that has appeared capable of stopping him reaching 30 Bundesliga goals this season.
There was no stemming the flow of the frenetic nature which normally accompanies this fixture, with Dortmund slightly aggrieved Joshua Kimmich did not concede a spot kick for making contact with Marco Reus.
Bayern were then handed the chance to restore parity after Mo Dahoud fouled Kingsley Coman
Lewandowski made no mistake, netting his 30th Bundesliga goal of the season
Thorgan Hazard could have been forgiven if he was one of the more vociferous complainants after slicing a good chance on the half volley wide of the near post at the start of the second half, and he may well have been joined by Marwin Hitz had his spilling of Kimmich’s shot been latched on to and converted by Coman.
The spotlight however did not shift from Haaland and Lewandowski for too long, but for rather contrasting reasons.
The Norwegian was taken off with half an hour still to play, most likely as a precautionary measure after suffering a knock to his ankle, before his Polish counterpart blazed over outside the box when well set up by Sane.
Marwin Hitz nearly paid for spilling Joshua Kimmich’s effort with Kingsley Coman lurking
Erling Haaland was substituted after sustaining a knock to the ankle in the second half
The home onslaught however appeared imminent with the introduction of Serge Gnabry, and the Germany international took aim with a deflected effort which required all 6ft 5in of Swiss shotstopper Hitz.
Injury also struck the hosts though, and their centre-back fallibilities will now be of greater concern to Hansi Flick after Boateng limped off with a suspected hamstring issue while making a vital interception to prevent Reus having just Manuel Neuer to beat.
But it failed to derail them from test the visitors’ defence, and after Jude Bellingham slid in to deny him moments earlier, Leon Goretzka netted the volley that broke Dortmund hearts and crushed their indomitable spirit following a poor clearance.
Leon Goretzka eventually made home pressure pay, firing home a volley after a poor clearance
Lewandowski then rubbed salt into the wounds with a 31st league goal this campaign that sealed his 14th hat-trick for the club, and not only ensured Dortmund’s barren run in Munich since April 2014 continued despite a valiant display, but also that their place as leaders was preserved for another weekend at least.
RB Leipzig may well – for this season – at least – have taken Dortmund’s place as Bayern’s closest challengers.
But if ever there was evidence that Julian Nagelsmann’s men will have to toil to overturn what is still just a two-point gap, then Lewandowski and Co certainly provided it.
Lewandowski then netted his 14th hat-trick for the club and 31st league goal this season