Bayern Munich restored their four-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga this afternoon as they hit five past a hapless Eintracht Frankfurt, condemning their opponents to their fifth defeat in a row. The revenge was sweet for the hosts, whose 5-1 defeat in the reverse fixture had spelled the end of Niko Kovac's regime.
In retrospect, though, the rout did the Bavarian giants a huge favour, with Bayern now flourishing under Kovac's successor, Hansi Flick. Today's victory was their 16th in 17.
Aside from the aforementioned demolition, the precedents didn't bode well for Frankfurt, who have the worst away record in the division and had lost their last 10 at the Allianz Arena. They're a team in dire straights, and were unable to escape the rut today.
This Bayern performance wasn't without its flaws, though. Martin Hinteregger twice exposed some careless defending from corners. At 3-2, Frankfurt appeared to have a lifeline.
That was until two moments of defensive calamity extinguished the wishful hopes of the visitors as Bayern cruised to victory with their renewed three-goal margin.
Story of the match
Unsurprisingly, it was the hosts who assumed control early on, hitting their rhythm with ease. A flurry of chances fell their way in the space of approximately three minutes.
First, Joshua Kimmich's corner dribbled through the penalty area to Robert Lewandowski, who swept onto the bar. Ivan Perisic then darted in behind the Frankfurt defence, but was unable to gather any meaningful contact behind Kimmich's chipped ball.
Shortly after, Benjamin Pavard found himself well-placed to head home from close proximity after Kimmich, the provider for the third time, delivered a pinpoint cross into the penalty area. The Frenchman failed to direct his header past Kevin Trapp.
Frankfurt had survived, but the reprieve was only temporary. Bayern were overwhelming their opponents, who were pitifully dysfunctional at both ends of the pitch.
As the first half progressed, Frankfurt managed to get their act together slightly. They continued to stutter in possession, but had managed to halt the one-way traffic of the opening half an hour.
Any momentum that they had built up, though, was unceremoniously deflated in the 41st minute when Alphonso Davies' perfect cross picked out Muller, who took an awkward touch and then volleyed home to double Bayern's advantage. It was Muller down to a tee: clever, effective, and ruthless. VAR approved the goal.
30 seconds after the restart, Bayern appeared to have put the game beyond reach when Lewandowski converted a simple header from Kingsley Coman's accurate ball into the penalty area. What followed was entirely unexpected.
In the 52nd minute, Frankfurt clawed one back when Hinteregger volleyed in from close range in a penalty box scramble. The big question was whether this was a minor consolation or a ray of hope for Frankfurt. Many assumed the former, but it ultimately proved to be the latter.
Three minutes later, history repeated itself as Hinteregger stunned Bayern with another goal from a corner, this time with his head as he glanced beautifully into the top corner. Frankfurt were improving, gaining both energy and confidence. Bayern, meanwhile, were losing their veneer of dominance.
Coman would soon restore their two-goal cushion when he pounced on Gelson Fernandes' aimless pass in the Frankfurt penalty area and lashed home at the near post. There were no fans at the stadium, but those watching at home were no doubt breathing a collective sigh of relief.
Nevertheless, Bayern continued to concede chances with an air of complacency about their football. In the 68th minute, Andre Silva backheeled for Mijat Gacinovic, who was denied inside the six-yard box by the legs of Manuel Neuer. The veteran keeper then got up quickly to smother Silva's effort at the near post.
Another episode of dreadful defending presented Bayern with their fifth and final goal. After Serge Gnabry closed in on goal and poked past Trapp, Hinteregger put the ball in the back of the net once again. This time, though, it was at the wrong end of the pitch as he failed to sort his feet out and watched on despairingly as the ball trickled past the goal line.
No Thiago, no problem
This Bayern side boasts a wealth of attractive talent, but perhaps the most gifted of the lot is the unsung hero at the base of midfield, Thiago Alcantara. The Brazilian has dazzled with his displays this season as the fulcrum of Bayern’s possession play, and for that reason, many expected Bayern to feel his absence dearly today.
Joshua Kimmich, though, looked more than capable alongside Goretzka in front of the defence as he took up the mantle from Bayern's no.6. Dictating play seamlessly, Kimmich could have easily had a hat-trick of assists inside the first 15 minutes were it not for some profligate finishing from his teammates.
A special mention is also due for Muller. His volley and cross for Goretzka made it 29 goal involvements in all competitions this season, a staggering 19 of those being assists.
Frankfurt lacking in forward areas
Today wasn't the first time Frankfurt had to wager the bulk of their chips on talisman Filip Kostic. The departures of Luka Jovic, Sebastian Haller and Ante Rebic last summer have left Frankfurt alarmingly short in the final third, with Kostic being their only reliable creative outlet.
The Serb has four goals and eight assists to his name in the Bundesliga this season and was dangerous again today coming in off the left-hand side, though Frankfurt - as a whole - were a team that created precious little all match. A surge in confidence late on allowed them to get a foothold in the game, though, in truth, the gulf in quality between the two sides was depressingly large.