Hoffenheim 0-6 Bayern Munich: Dream Zirkzee debut marred by off-field events

Hoffenheim 0-6 Bayern Munich: Dream Zirkzee debut marred by off-field events

Demonstrations against Hoffenheim owner Dietmar Hopp from Bayern Munich fans overshadowed their thumping 6-0 Bundesliga victory on Saturday.

The two sides played out time in bizarre scenes after the match was twice interrupted and the players were taken off the field.

Insulting chants and banners were directed at Hopp, an unpopular figure with some fans in Germany due to his financing of Hoffenheim, from spectators in the away end on Saturday.

The game was paused after a banner was unveiled in the final 20 minutes, with Bayern players and officials pleading with supporters to stop so the game could continue at Rhein-Neckar-Arena – where Borussia Dortmund fans were banned from for two seasons as a result of a similar protest.

Play resumed for a brief period, before referee Christian Dingert directed the teams towards the dressing rooms due to the continued protests, prompting Oliver Khan and Hasan Salihamidzic to head onto the pitch and also implore with followers of the Bavarian giants.

The sides eventually returned to the field, and all 22 players convened in the centre of the pitch to see out time with a round of applause, while passing and juggling the ball between themselves and clapping along with fans.

Hopp also headed onto the pitch and shook hands with Bayern officials and the referee, who finally blew up in a strange conclusion to a one-sided match.

Leaders Bayern put Hoffenheim to the sword, adapting seamlessly to life without the injured Robert Lewandowski as 18-year-old Joshua Zirkzee scored on his first Bundesliga start.

With Lewandowski out for four weeks and Kingsley Coman also missing, the champions’ rejigged front line had forged a slightly fortuitous lead inside two minutes.

Thomas Muller picked out a stretching Serge Gnabry, whose volley back across the face of goal cannoned in off Oliver Baumann’s knee.

Joshua Kimmich then picked out the bottom-right corner in clinical fashion from 20 yards five minutes later after more good work from Muller in the build-up.

There was no stopping Bayern, and Zirkzee’s big moment arrived soon enough, the forward turning smartly in the area before shuffling his feet to slide a left-footed finish past Baumann.

Zirkzee continued to take up dangerous positions, and his blocked shot after 33 minutes fell for Philippe Coutinho to blast goalwards, with a deflection taking the ball beyond Baumann and into the roof of the net.

Hoffenheim appeared to learn few lessons from a punishing first half, as the second period began in the same fashion. Muller stole possession on the right and crossed for Coutinho to sweep in.

Leon Goretzka replaced Muller before the hour-mark and quickly had his name on the scoresheet, finishing a rapid counter-attack with a cute dink over the goalkeeper, but it was then Bayern fans who took centre stage.

What does it mean? Brilliant Bayern take a backseat

For over an hour, it appeared the talk after this game would be of Bayern’s sensational form. They are the first team in Bundesliga history to score at least three goals in five straight away games. But the focus shifted to the stands in the closing stages, meaning a stunning display was marred.

Majestic Muller

Flick discussed the possibility of replacing Lewandowski with either Gnabry, Muller or Zirkzee on Friday. In the end, he used all three. It worked a treat, but Muller was the star of the show for 56 minutes. A measured cross created the opener, before his gorgeous touch from a long ball teed up the attack from which Kimmich made it two. He also forged the fifth in a majestic display.

Hapless Hoffenheim

So many of the home side’s problems were of their own making. The game was all but over after 15 minutes, yet Hoffenheim’s insistence on playing out from the back saw possession cheaply given up time and time again, leading to further Bayern chances. The fifth goal came as Muller stole the ball with ease 25 yards from goal and put it on a plate for Coutinho.

What’s next?

Bayern have another big week coming up, visiting Schalke in a DFB-Pokal quarter-final on Tuesday before returning to league action at home to Augsburg. Hoffenheim make the same trip to Schalke next weekend.

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