Football: Gomez nets hat-trick as Bayern hammer Hoffenheim
Germany striker Mario Gomez netted a hat-trick in Bayern Munich's 7-1 demolition of Hoffenheim on Saturday as the Bavarians trimmed the gap behind German league leaders Dortmund to four points.
With defending champions Dortmund playing relegation-threatened Augsburg on Saturday night, Bayern took the chance to cut their lead and give themselves a confidence boost ahead of Tuesday's Champions League clash.
Bayern badly needed a win ahead of their Round of 16 home clash against FC Basel when they must over-turn a 1-0 defeat from the away leg.
With Bayern already licking their wounds from last weekend's 2-0 defeat at Leverkusen, reports coach Jupp Heynckes will quit at the end of the season also circulated in midweek, although he later insisted he will see out the 15 months left on his contract.
Bayern responded to the pressure by blitzing Hoffenheim with five goals in exactly 30 minutes during a devastating first-half performance.
"The difference from the Leverkusen game was that we have now played well over 90 minutes and took our chances," said Heynckes.
"We played at a frenzy and the goals were all a delicacy.
"I've noticed over the week that the team wanted to move up a gear and flick the lever. This will give us a boost for Tuesday."
Bayern started with a bang as Gomez put a pass out to Thomas Mueller whose shot was parried only for the striker to fire home after five minutes.
Dutch winger Arjen Robben then converted a penalty to put them 2-0 up after 11 minutes.
The third came just seven minutes later when Germany midfielder Toni Kroos fired home from 25 metres and Robben made it 4-0 with less than half an hour played after a defence splitting-pass from France wing Franck Ribery.
The rout continued as Gomez headed home a Ribery cross on 34 minutes and the Germany striker wrapped up his hat-trick with a second header from a Robben corner on 48 minutes.
Having created three of Bayern's goals, Ribery then claimed his own for Bayern's seventh on 58 minutes before Bayern's Luiz Gustavo netted a late own-goal for Hoffenheim.
This was only Bayern's fifth win in their ten games since Christmas, but with third-placed Moenchengladbach being held to a goalless draw by Freiburg, Bayern are now three points clear of third with a huge goal difference.
Germany striker Lukas Podolski, who reports claim is set to join Arsenal at the end of the season, was shown a straight red-card in Cologne's bad-tempered 1-0 home win over Hertha Berlin as the hosts finished with nine men.
Cologne midfielder Christian Clemens scored the first-half winner, but Podolski was one of three players sent off for aiming a second-half head butt and was shown a straight red on 76 minutes.
After their humiliating 7-1 defeat at Barcelona in the Champions League in midweek, Bayer Leverkusen slumped to a 3-2 defeat at Wolfsburg, despite taking an early lead.
Mainz are up to tenth after their 2-1 win at home to Nuremberg as Egypt striker Mohamed Zidan continued his remarkable scoring run with his sixth goal in consecutive games when he drilled home a free-kick on 22 minutes.
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