Serge Gnabry experienced a sensational return to north London when his ruthless second-half quadruple earned an astounding 7-2 triumph for Bayern Munich at last season’s beaten Champions League finalists Tottenham, making him the only pick for Tuesday’s Carolina Herrera hero of the day.
The ex-Arsenal starlet burst into life with his side only one-goal ahead at 2-1. By the time he’d wrapped up the scoring in the 88th minute, the Bundesliga holders and their emerging Germany winger had issued an emphatic message to the rest of Europe.
A tense match was expected at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
These expectations appeared accurate when Germany right-back Joshua Kimmich’s 20-yard drive on 15 minutes soon levelled Son Heung-min’s opener. The hosts, however, never recovered from prolific Poland striker Robert Lewandowski’s swivelled finish on the stroke of half-time.
Gnabry would unleash four inch-perfect finishes from 53-88 minutes, each one arrowing into the corner. In-between, Harry Kane netted a penalty to make it 4-2 and Lewandowski buried another.
Bayern walked off the pitch bolstered by the knowledge they’d become the first club to net seven times at Tottenham in a major competition in the hosts’ 137-year history.
Pass accuracy: 82.9 per cent
Bayern needed something extra to earn a standout result in Europe.
Their ascendant wide man would give them that step-up – and much, much more.
Gnabry oscillated between hugging the touchline and operating centrally, plus even swapped flanks at one stage. This movement proved far too smart for bedraggled Spurs.
That’s now an impressive five goals in eight club appearances this term for Gnabry. The 24-year-old’s exploits also reinforced a painful message to Arsenal that they’d let a major talent slip through their grasp in August 2016.
This was a historic performance to make the world take notice.
Gnabry had grown into a key figure when Bayern chased down Borussia Dortmund, domestically, last term. This week’s transcendent display has elevated him to a new plane of existence.
Five-time winners Bayern have not dominated Europe since 2013. The likes of Gnabry, Lewandowski and Kingsley Coman promise a bravura campaign ahead.
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Last season’s Champions League finalists were hit for an embarrassing seven goals by a rampant Bayern Munich side on Tuesday night.
Serge Gnabry ran riot at Tottenham, scoring four second-half goals to complete an extraordinary 7-2 drubbing.
Son Heung-min had opened the scoring in the 12th minute before Joshua Kimmich restored parity three minutes later. Robert Lewandowski gave the away side the lead on the stroke of half-time only and quick-fire strikes from Gnabry after the restart gave Bayern a 4-1 lead.
A Harry Kane penalty pulled one back for Spurs but Lewandowski would find the net again and Gnabry added two more to round off the scoring.
The result puts Bayern in pole position in Group B.
Here, we rate the performances of Bayern’s players.
STARTING XI (4-2-3-1)
Neuer 6 – Made some fine saves to deny the likes of Son and Christian Eriksen. Cool as you like with the ball at his feet.
Pavard 5 – Got an assist but Son ran off the back of him a couple of times. Hooked at the break.
Boateng 5 – Lost his bearings a few times at the back. Good on the ball but had to go off injured with 20 minutes left.
Sule 6 – Struggled against Son in the first half but grew into the game and stamped his authority on it in the second.
Alaba 6 – Good going forward and created chances with his deliveries. Even made a vital block.
Kimmich 7 – Stunning goal to equalise in the first half. Switched from midfield to right-back effortlessly.
Tolisso 6 – Big error leading up to the opening goal but made up for it with two assists.
Gnabry 10 – Flawless on the night. Four fantastic goals and an assist as well. What a talent Arsenal let go.
Coutinho 6 – A subdued display that did have the rare highlight. Classy flick to set up Lewandowski for his second.
Coman 6 – Had a decent shout for a penalty but denied. A threat on the break but nowhere near as effective as Gnabry.
Lewandowski 9 – The definition of an elite striker. Had it all to do up front but pounced on his opportunities and dispatched them expertly.
Thiago (46′) 7 – Entered the game and immediately brought control to Bayern’s play. Superb ball for Gnabry’s hat-trick.
Perisic (71′) 5 – Didn’t make much of an impact after replacing Coman.
Martinez (72′) 5 – Held firm at the end before seeing out the game.
Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac has ruled out the possibility of fielding both Philippe Coutinho and Thomas Muller as his side prepare to take on Cologne.
Coutinho returned to fitness in time for Bayern’s 3-0 Champions League victory over Red Star Belgrade before being replaced by Muller in the 83rd minute. Muller made an almost instant impact by scoring in the first minute of stoppage time, but Kovac does not intend to play the attacking midfielders in tandem.
“Muller and Coutinho together in the 10 role would be too attacking. We need a good balance,” he said at a pre-match press conference.
“Never say never, but right now I’d lower the probability.”
Unbeaten this season in the Bundesliga, Kovac reported that his squad were raring to return after their midweek exertions.
“Of course we’ve had that game but Saturday will come down to the mental aspect,” he said.
“We absolutely want to win, that’s hugely important for us, but my players are fit and ready.
“Our opponents in the Bundesliga always give their all and we’ll be challenged from the first minute, but we want to win and remain at the top end of the table.”
Kovac could have a handful of injury worries, however.
“Josh (Kimmich) went over his ankle but everything looks OK,” he said.
“Lucas (Hernandez) has a problem with his ankle too and Kingsley (Coman) has a sore neck, so we’ll have to see how they do.”
Cologne manager Achim Beierlorzer is not resigned to defeat as his side anticipate their stiffest challenge since winning promotion from the second tier.
The Billy Goats have endured a tricky initiation in the Bundesliga, winning only one game thus far and losing three. They now face the reigning champions as they hover just two points from the bottom of the table.
“If it’s about damage limitation, then I’m the wrong man to speak to,” Beierlorzer said at a pre-match press conference.
“That’s not my thing. Naturally, it will be a challenge. But we want to get something from the game.”