Coutinho hits hat-trick in Bayern rout as Leipzig go top

BERLIN (AFP) – Philippe Coutinho scored a hat-trick as Bayern Munich signalled their return to form with a 6-1 thrashing of Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga last Saturday night, while RB Leipzig took over first place.

The Barcelona loanee was everywhere for Munich at the Allianz Arena, chalking up two assists in addition to his three goals, but Bayern remain six points adrift of Leipzig.

Julian Nagelsmann’s ambitious side replaced Borussia Moenchengladbach at the top following a comfortable 3-0 victory at Fortuna Duesseldorf.

Bayern had lost their previous two games in the Bundesliga and appeared to be in for another long afternoon when the champions fell behind to Bremen midfielder Milot Rashica’s goal in the 24th minute. Two goals in three minutes at the end of the first half however turned the game on its head, with Coutinho and Robert Lewandowski both scoring to fire Bayern into a 2-1 lead.

Bayern ran riot after the break, adding four more goals – including two more for Coutinho, one more for Lewandowski and a goal for Thomas Mueller. Coutinho’s second, a brilliant chip over keeper Jiri Pavlenka, came right out of the Brazilian trickster’s top drawer.

Bayern coach Hansi Flick praised Coutinho’s performance as “just great”.

“It was great fun for everyone to see how he performed. What made me particularly happy was the way that the team really celebrated his efforts – it was from the heart. We’re all incredibly pleased with the effort he put in today.”

Coutinho’s form has been questioned since he arrived from Barcelona in the summer, however he was given a standing ovation by the Bayern crowd when subbed off in the 82nd minute.

He was brought off for another summer arrival Sarpreet Singh, who became the first player of Indian descent – and just the second New Zealander – to play in the Bundesliga.

Bayern defender David Alaba said after the game that his side didn’t panic when they went behind, knowing they had the quality to reel in the visitors.

“You saw the character that our team has – we completely turned the match in the moments before half-time,” he said.

Leipzig recorded their sixth straight win against Fortuna to move two points clear of Gladbach.