Bayern Munich secured top spot in their Champions’ League group with a match to spare after Robert Lewandowski scored four goals in 15 second-half minutes.
Lewandowski’s goals inspired a 6-0 away drubbing of Red Star Belgrade on Tuesday.
The result left Bayern top of Group B on 15 points, five more than Tottenham Hotspur who joined them in the last 16 after fighting back from two goals down to beat Olympiakos Piraeus 4-2 at home.
The fastest four-goal haul in Champions League history made Lewandowski the top scorer in Europe’s premier club competition this season with 10 goals, overtaking Salzburg’s Norway striker Erling Braut Haaland on seven.
Bayern’s clinical performance delighted interim coach Hansi Flick, who stretched his perfect start at the helm to four wins from four with 16 goals scored and none conceded since he took over from Croatian Niko Kovac on Nov 3.
“Every player performed superbly from start to finish, as we were strong defensively and also fully displayed our attacking potential,’’ the club’s former midfielder told a news conference.
“We didn’t allow Red Star a sniff at goal as we prepared well for this match. We showed from the very start that there was not going to be an upset.’’
Bayern pinned Red Star back from the start and came close three times through Lewandowski and Kingsley Coman before Leon Goretzka fired them into a 14th-minute lead with a superb header.
The Germany midfielder rose above his markers to steer a perfect Philippe Coutinho cross from the left past goalkeeper Milan Borjan, who was left clutching nothing but air.
Borjan, who made a flurry of first-half saves, denied Bayern a bigger lead before the interval as he kept out shots from Coutinho and Lewandowski with Red Star barely able to get out of their own half.
Lewandowski had a goal disallowed shortly before halftime after a quick VAR review ruled that Corentin Tolisso handled the ball when he teed up the Poland striker.
A vociferous band of around 2,000 visiting Bayern supporters lit some two dozen flares early in the second half, seemingly igniting Lewandowski’s onslaught against a hapless Red Star who were nonetheless roared on by their own faithful.
The Pole converted a 53rd-minute penalty after Milos Degenek handled in the box and made it 3-0 on the hour from a fine assist by Tolisso, with the away fans in full swing at the Rajko Mitic stadium.
Lewandowski headed in the fourth soon afterwards from a Benjamin Pavard cross and stunned Red Star again in the 68th minute after a one-two with substitute Ivan Perisic left the home team’s defence flat-footed.
Tolisso completed the rout in the dying minutes with a simple finish after Red Star lost possession close to their penalty area. (Reuters/NAN)