By Our Sports Reporter
BAYERN, Germany [SHIFTMEDIA NEWS] Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski grabbed the earliest hat-trick in Champions League history with three goals by the 23rd minute as the Germans steamrollered Salzburg 7-1 on Tuesday to book a place in the quarter-finals with an 8-2 aggregate score.
The 33-year-old Poland striker opened his account with two almost identical penalties in the 12th minute and 21st before netting on the break two minutes later for his fifth hat-trick ever in the competition.
The last-16 tie was all but over by the half-hour mark when Serge Gnabry beat goalkeeper Philipp Koehn with a low shot to make it 4-0.
“This was a statement, an exclamation mark,” said Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer.
Bayern have now scored seven or more goals in a Champions League game for a record seventh time.
“We started well and presented ourselves differently from recent weeks. That gives you hope that this will go on. You could see from the start that we had a good attitude,” Neuer added.
Salzburg had two golden chances early in the game and came agonisingly close to an equaliser in the 15th minute when Neuer, back from a knee injury, pulled off the save of the game to tip Nicolas Seiwald’s missile over the bar.
But even though Salzburg had not conceded more than two goals in a competitive match this season, they could do nothing to stop in-form Lewandowski, who twice forced defender Maximilian Woeber to fell him for a penalty before beating him again on the rebound for his third goal.
Worse was to come
Worse was to come after the break when Thomas Mueller turned beautifully in the box to drill in the hosts’ fifth goal in the 54th.
Salzburg teenager Maurits Kjaergaard got some brief consolation for the visitors in the 70th with his first European goal.
Mueller, however, bagged his second of the evening 13 minutes later before Leroy Sane completed the rout in the 86th.
“Today it was an opponent on a different level,” Salzburg defender Rasmus Kristensen said.
“We had some chances but if you don’t make them count it’s difficult. It had nothing to do with attitude, focus or the match plan. They simply were better in all aspects – that’s it.”