Treble-chasing Bayern thrash Gladbach

by Ryland JAMES

Berlin (Germany) (AFP) - Sandro Wagner netted twice as treble-chasing Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich ran riot in a 5-1 win at home to Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday.

After securing a sixth straight German league title last weekend and booking a Champions League semi-final place in midweek, this was another dominant display from Bayern, who have a German Cup semi-final at Leverkusen on Tuesday.

Jupp Heynckes' Bavarians are the only top European team who can still win the treble this season.

Gladbach, who beat Bayern 2-1 at Borussia Park last November, silenced the crowd when Josip Drmic cut inside defender Niklas Suele to fire home with nine minutes gone.

Conceding an early goal at Munich's Allianz Arena is like a red rag to the bull for Bayern.

Wagner tapped home their opening goal after good work from Thomas Mueller on 37 minutes, then added a second with a superb header four minutes later.

Wagner, the back-up at Bayern for star striker Robert Lewandowski who was on the bench, has scored seven goals in his last eight games.

Bayern promptly increased their lead on 51 minutes as Thiago Alcantara drilled home the rebound after Gladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer blocked an attempt from Wagner.

- Lewandowski strikes -

Gladbach had appeals for a penalty turned down when Juan Bernat brought down Denis Zakaria in the area.

Left-back David Alaba, returning from a back injury, scored Bayern's fourth from outside the area on 67 minutes with a fierce shot off his right foot.

Not to be outdone Lewandowski, sporting a black eye from Wednesday's Champions League clash against Sevilla, came on for Wagner to score Bayern's fifth.

The Poland striker hit his 36th goal this season by burying Joshua Kimmich's cross into the bottom corner eight minutes from time.

The emphatic victory leaves Bayern a massive 23 points clear in the table with second-placed Schalke hosting Borussia Dortmund on Sunday in the Ruhr derby.

Earlier, Niko Kovac insisted Eintracht Frankfurt won't use his appointment as Bayern coach for next season as an excuse, despite their 4-1 thrashing at Bayer Leverkusen.

Frankfurt's plans for next season were thrown into chaos on Friday when Bayern confirmed Kovac, 46, will join them to replace Heynckes as coach in 2018/19.

"Trainers and players come and go, my team will not use this as an excuse," said Kovac.

"Everyone is professional enough, because we know we can achieve a European place next year - I am convinced of that."

However, the performance at the BayArena did not back up Kovac's words as Frankfurt's Champions League hopes suffered a heavy blow.

This was the first time this season Frankfurt have conceded four goals.

- Volland hat-trick -

Germany hopeful Kevin Volland boosted his chances of making Joachim Loew's World Cup squad, to be named on May 15, with a hat-trick for Leverkusen.

The thrashing left Frankfurt sixth, five points from fourth-placed Leverkusen -- and a Champions League place -- with four games left.

Germany international Julian Brandt headed Leverkusen ahead on 20 minutes.

Frankfurt drew level three minutes later through Mexico midfielder Marco Fabian, but the floodgates opened as Volland hit his treble in 17 second-half minutes.

The win cements Leverkusen's grip on fourth place and gives them a five-point cushion over Hoffenheim, in fifth, and Frankfurt, who are in the Europa League places.

Elsewhere, the bottom two clubs Hamburg and Cologne suffered defeats to edge closer towards relegation.

Bottom side Cologne suffered a 2-1 away defeat to mid-table Hertha Berlin at the Olympic Stadium.

Leon Bittencourt gave Cologne the lead, but Hertha came back with two goals as Davie Selke netted twice in the second half.

Hamburg stumbled to a 2-0 defeat at Hoffenheim as Serge Gnabry and Adam Szalai netted first-half goals in Sinsheim.

Hanover 96 snatched a point at Stuttgart as striker Niclas Fuellkrug equalised in the 91st minute after Erik Thommy gave the hosts the lead just after the break.