FRANKFURT: Manuel Neuer could not have wished for a happier return to action after injury as Bayern Munich thrashed Darmstadt in the Bundesliga with a hat-trick from Harry Kane.

The England captain’s first treble for Bayern included a goal-of-the-season strike from 50 metres.

Captain Neuer, 37, was playing for the first time in the league since November 2022, after breaking a leg during a skiing holiday after Germany’s early World Cup exit in December last year.

Neuer said: “I’m very happy, the happiest I’ve ever been after a game. I was positively excited but not nervous. I was a bit curious as to what would happen.”

Neuer looked on track to be back at his best, making several superb saves in the first half, but spent most of the second half with little to do as Bayern scored eight times after the break.

While he got his starting spot back from reserve keeper Sven Ulreich, Neuer still needs to fight for his Germany spot with Euro 2024 next year on home soil and with Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen having been first choice during his absence. Neuer had been Germany’s first-choice keeper for 13 years until his injury.

Kane continued his stellar start to Bundesliga life as he extended his record to 12 goals in nine games. He broke the deadlock after a first half that included three red cards, before netting twice more.

Leroy Sane and Jamal Musiala each got doubles while Thomas Muller also scored in the comfortable win.

Kane’s long-range goal took advantage of Marcel Schuhen standing off his line, with the former Tottenham striker launching the ball over the Darmstadt goalkeeper’s head after Bayern had overturned possession in their own half.

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