A masterclass from Jamal Musiala, along with a first goal in five games for Sadio Mane, helped Bayern Munich beat hapless Bayer Leverkusen 4-0 at home on Friday.
Musiala scored one and set up two more, leaving the pitch to a delighted reception when he was substituted after 81 minutes.
When asked after the match if the victory took the pressure off manager Julian Nagelsmann, Musiala simply replied that “the pressure was on all of us”.
“We (the players) are focused on ourselves. We all want to win and be number one – and we showed that today.
“The pressure is always there at Bayern. We have to deal with it.”
Bayern, who had failed to win four games in a row, came out of the blocks early, Musiala sending a low cross straight into the path of Leroy Sane, who opened the scoring after just two minutes.
Musiala then put himself on the scoresheet after 17 minutes, combining perfectly with veteran striker Thomas Mueller for his fifth goal of the season.
While the game seemed spontaneous, Musiala smiled after the match saying “yeah, we’ve been trying to do that one for a while”.
Musiala turned provider again in the 39th minute, guiding a ball past Mane who scored for the first time since August 21 – which was Bayern’s last Bundesliga win.
Mueller added a fourth in the 84th minute through a yell from Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky, who slipped trying to pass, sending the ball straight into Mueller’s path.
The goal was the Bayern and Germany striker’s first of the campaign.
Nagelsmann told DAZN “there is a lot of writing about the relationship between the team and the manager.”
“I’ve always said you can tell when the players leave the dressing room if they respect the manager. And you can see in every game (we’ve played recently) that the players were going all out.”
“It was very satisfying today.”
The defeat adds to Leverkusen’s misery, with the visitors winning just one game from eight attempts this campaign, in addition to an embarrassing German Cup first-round exit at third division SV Elversberg.
Leverkusen midfielder Kerem Demirbay told broadcaster DAZN after the match that his team continued to “lose games in a brutal way”.
“It’s very, very difficult for us at the moment. We have to stay positive – it’s a long season.”
Leverkusen have now conceded 16 goals this season – the second most in the Bundesliga – putting pressure on Swiss manager Gerardo Seoane.
Seoane said after the game “it’s a matter of will”.
“We didn’t have the necessary aggressiveness. It’s also a mental process.”
The win puts Bayern second in the standings, with the remainder of the weekend’s games still to be played.
With 60 minutes to go, Seoane brought in Iranian striker Sardar Azmoun, prompting home fans to unveil two banners in support of protests that have swept through Azmoun’s home country.
One banner read “women, life, freedom” in Farsi – a common chant heard at Iranian protests – while another, in English, read “solidarity with the feminist revolution in Iran”.
The protests, which have swept across the country and left several dead, follow the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurd in police custody.
Amini was arrested for allegedly breaking Iran’s strict rules on religious dress. -AFP