FRANKFURT: Robert Lewandowski scored a first-half hat-trick as 10-man Bayern Munich thrashed Stuttgart to go four points clear at the top of the Bundesliga.
Bayern’s Alphonso Davies was sent off after 12 minutes only for Lewandowski to open the scoring five minutes later.
Serge Gnabry doubled Bayern’s advantage and Lewandowski completed his hat-trick with two further goals before half-time.
The Poland striker has now scored 42 times for Bayern this season.
With referee Daniel Schlager showing Davies a straight red for a foul on Stuttgart’s Wataru Endo, Bayern’s winning run – which stood at five going into Saturday’s game – initially looked in danger.
However, three goals in the following 11 minutes put the game beyond doubt and the hosts cantered to all three points after the restart.
In Spain . . .
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane expressed his surprise at the refusal of France to call up Karim Benzema after the centre-forward’s two goals and an assist secured a 3-1 win over Celta Vigo.
Benzema has not been picked by France coach Didier Deschamps for the past six years because of off-pitch controversies but Zidane said: “I. don’t understand this, and a lot of people don’t understand this. Karim is a perfect player. When you love football, you love Karim. It’s obligatory.
“On the other hand, as coach of Real, it’s good that he stays with us for the next two weeks. “
Benzema has contributed 23 goals and six assists this season in all competitions and has thus become the fourth top scorer in the history of Real in La Liga, level with Carlos Santillana on 186 goals.
Ahead of him are Cristiano Ronaldo (312), Raul (228) and Alfredo Di Stéfano (216).
In France . . .
The Ministry of Sport has ruled that any players involved in forthcoming national team matches outside the European Union will not have to submit to the government’s compulsory seven-day quarantine restriction on their return to France.