BERLIN (Reuters) - Treble winners Bayern Munich demolished Schalke 04 4-0 with a stellar performance on Saturday to join Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund at the top of the table after they drew 1-1 at Nuremberg.
Bayern’s Bastian Schweinsteiger, back in the starting lineup after an ankle injury, drilled in a well-timed header in the 21st minute and Mario Mandzukic did exactly the same a minute later to silence the 61,000 Schalke crowd.
Franck Ribery sealed the win with a clever flick off a David Alaba cutback in the 75th minute before substitute Claudio Pizarro completed yet another dominant Bayern performance in the 84th, following their 3-0 midweek mauling of CSKA Moscow in the Champions League.
”This was our best game so far,“ Bayern coach Pep Guardiola told reporters. ”We completely dominated one of Germany’s strongest teams.
“We did it very well and I can only be satisfied and proud of this performance and my players,” said the Spaniard, who fielded a different starting lineup for the ninth time in his 10 games in charge in all competitions.
What had started out as a fierce derby, with Schalke eager to give the treble winners a run for their money, turned into a Bavarian joyride at the start of the city’s Oktoberfest.
Schalke’s Kevin-Prince Boateng, who faced his brother Jerome in the Bayern defence, and Adam Szalai had early chances before Bayern sped away with the game, blitzing them with two quick goals to knock them down.
“We took the game very seriously from the first minute,” Schweinsteiger told reporters.
“We also knew of the results in the earlier games. At times we played very good football. We vary our game a lot and that makes it difficult to take the ball from us.”
Bayern, who extended a club record unbeaten run to 31 games, are second, equal on 16 points with Dortmund, who hung on to top spot due to a better attack despite Nuremberg ending their five-game winning streak.
Schalke dropped to 12th after riding a wave of enthusiasm following their 3-0 midweek win over Steaua Bucharest in the Champions League.
“We had imagined this differently. 4-0 at home is a flop,” said Schalke coach Jens Keller. “We started very well, had a good 20 opening minutes but then we got hit twice and never recovered after that.”
Despite several changes to the team that lost 2-1 at Napoli in the Champions League in midweek, Dortmund were initially the better side.
Coach Juergen Klopp opted to rest several players, moving youngsters Marvin Duksch and Erik Durm into the lineup.
The visitors broke the deadlock in the 37th minute with a fierce free kick from Marcel Schmelzer.
Nuremberg, who have yet to win this season, grew bolder in the second half and scored an equaliser in the 51st minute with Per Nilsson’s close-range effort after Dortmund defenders failed to clear a free kick.
“We could have got more out of this game,” said Klopp. “The team can play better than that even with that lineup.”
Bayer Leverkusen are still third with 15 points, shrugging off their own Champions League defeat to Manchester United by crushing Mainz 05 4-1 with two goals from Australian Robbie Kruse.
Hamburg SV, the only team to have played in the Bundesliga every season since its creation in 1963, headed deeper into crisis losing their northern derby against visitors Werder Bremen 2-0 after a Nils Petersen double.
Hamburg, who sacked coach Thorsten Fink on Monday, dropped to third-from-bottom on four points while Bremen, in ninth place, have nine.
Croatian striker Ivica Olic struck once either side of halftime to help VfL Wolfsburg fight back from a goal down and beat Hoffenheim 2-1 to move up to sixth place. (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Rex Gowar)