Dortmund started the day two points clear of Bayern, but Lucien Favre’s side were dismantled during an astonishing first half that saw them concede four times.
Mats Hummels, Robert Lewandowski – with his 200th goal in the Bundesliga – Javi Martinez and Serge Gnabry all scored before the break as the Dortmund defence disintegrated.
Lewandowski added a fifth against his old club for good measure in the final minute to eclipse Gerd Muller’s 14-goal record in ‘Der Klassiker’ fixtures.
“We played perfectly over the 90 minutes,” Bayern boss Kovac said in an interview broadcast on www.bundesliga.com.
“I think you can say it’s a deserved result, but we could have and should have won by a greater mark when you look at the chances and corners we had.
“We showed in every department what I want to see, what I expect, what the benchmark is.
“It was the way we played at the start of the season, and we showed that again.”
Champions Bayern were nine points adrift of Dortmund in December and their grip on the trophy appeared to be loosening.
But Kovac’s side are now one point ahead with six games of the season remaining and in the driving seat to retain the title.
“The first half in particular was sensationally good in every respect,” Kovac added.
“But we still have six matches to go, and you saw how fast it can change in the league.
“Very, very difficult matches are awaiting both Dortmund and us, so we won’t say everything’s decided.”
Dortmund had won their three previous games to suggest that they were firmly back on track following a poor run through February and the start of March.
But their young defence was torn apart and the gulf between the two sides looked enormous, even though Mahmoud Dahoud might have given the visitors an early lead when he struck the woodwork.
“The 5-0 defeat is very, very hard to stomach but it was really deserved,” Dortmund manager Favre said.
“You have to admit it was a lesson. We still had the first chance to score, that could have changed the match a bit.
“Bayern were dominant then, they were quicker, they were better. When you’re four down at half-time it’s very hard to bounce back.”
They hit the post early on but were then nowhere to be seen as Bayern were 4-0 up at the break through goals for former players Mats Hummels and Robert Lewandowski, the others coming from Javi Martinez and Serge Gnabry.
Gnabry then teed up Lewandowski to seal an embarrassing defeat at the death, leaving Lucien Favre’s side in the familiar position of looking up at their illustrious rivals from second place.
Here we rate the Dortmund players. Spoiler, it’s not pretty reading:
BORUSSIA DORTMUND (4-3-3)
Roman Burki – 8: Excellent stop from Lewandowski kept rampant Bayern at bay, then tipped over Muller’s header. Could have been a farcical scoreline were it not for several top stops from the Swiss.
Lukasz Piszczek – 4: Couldn’t climb high enough to challenge Hummels. Roasted often by Coman’s blistering pace. Led side with seven tackles. A fading force.
Manuel Akanji – 3: Hopelessly stuck hand up for offside for Gnabry’s goal when he simply failed to follow him. Out of his depth. Five clearances led BVB.
Dan-Axel Zagadou – 2: Horrendous error allowed Lewandowski an opportunity. Unforgivable. Then shown yellow for bringing down the Bayern frontman. Hooked at the break.
Abdou Diallo – 4: On the ground, brought the ball out well. In the air, looked like he believed jumping had been outlawed. Led side with three interceptions.
Mahmoud Dahoud – 4: Only scored one goal for BVB and it showed as he struck the post when he really should have scored. Overawed, match summed up when playing a through ball to Reus who was yards offside.
Axel Witsel – 5: Enjoying a fine season but marooned in a Dortmund midfield that was simply outmuscled and outmanoeuvred. Worryingly unable to exert any influence.
Thomas Delaney – 5 Alert to hook clear Coman’s low centre. Busy but struggled to contain Munich’s marauding forwards. Booked for cynical foul on Lewandowski.
Jadon Sancho – 4: Looked nervous. Switched from right to left but made little difference, and he made little impact. 66.7 per cent pass accuracy in first half improved to 75 but a tough day at the office.
Marco Reus – 5: An anonymous performance from the captain, but with Bayern relentless and Dortmund penned in from the off, was always fighting losing battle.
Jacob Bruun Larsen – 3: Linked up well with Reus to fashion Dahoud chance. But failed to track Muller in lead-up to killer third goal. Four unskilled touches. Not his best day.
Julian Weigl – 7: Replaced the hopeless Zagadou and at least tried to restore some semblance of order.
Mario Gotze – 6: Coming on against his old club 4-0 down was not ideal. One of only four Dortmund players to have a shot.
Marius Wolf – 6: Replaced exhausted Piszczek, with game well out of his side’s reach.
Dortmund have a two-point lead after scoring two injury-time goals to beat Wolfsburg last weekend while Munich unexpectedly drew with Freiburg.
Here are the talking points for the game.
DORTMUND NEED TO GO ALL OUT IN MUST-WIN GAME
Usually, for a team with a two-point lead, a draw away from home against the second-placed side would be considered a good point.
But Dortmund aren’t going to feel safe with a two-point lead over Bayern for the rest of the season. It would require perfection from the remaining six games to win the title, because they can’t rely on the Bavarians to slip up – even if, as last weekend showed, it does happen.
Lucien Favre’s side need the five-point cushion a win would give them. Even if it’s equally true that they can’t afford to lose and fall a point behind, Dortmund will be better served risking going all out for a win.
Plus, despite their recent domestic dominance, Bayern have shown they can be rattled – they survived a bizarre midweek cup game against second-tier Heidenheim in a wild 5-4 win. The Black and Yellow need to take advantage.
Niko Kovač after the Freiburg game: Not only disappointed but also angry.pic.twitter.com/oc5ia0LCcd— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) March 31, 2019
BAYERN’S STARS NEED TO STEP UP
It wasn’t long ago that Bayern Munich faced a season-defining game and fluffed their lines. Last month, Liverpool came to Munich with the score at 0-0 going into the second leg of the Champions League round of 16 tie between the two sides. Niko Kovac’s side duly crashed out of Europe with a listless performance in a 3-1 loss.
James Rodriguez, Robert Lewandowski, Frank Ribery, Mats Hummels – all over the pitch there were big-name players shrinking on the big stage.
Dortmund aren’t quite Liverpool but they’ve already beaten Bayern this season – and that too, in a game where Munich twice took the lead. The Bavarians struggled in their Champions League group stage games against Ajax as well, failing to win on either occasion. That means in five meetings with teams close to their level in games that mattered this season, Bayern are winless. They can’t afford to make it six.
The last time we played Bayern 🔄— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) April 5, 2019
You know the rest...🇪🇸🔥 pic.twitter.com/67z3lI6fKE
ALL EYES ON JADON SANCHO
While the big-game prowess of some of Bayern’s stars may be in doubt, it’s a Dortmund star who will be the centre of attention.
Jadon Sancho has been getting praise from all corners this season, and it’s been deserved – any time a 19-year-old is in competition with the likes of Lionel Messi and Eden Hazard for most assists in the top five leagues in Europe, the hype is justified.
But apart from a goal in Dortmund’s stunning 4-0 Champions League group stage win over Atletico Madrid, Sancho hasn’t quite shown the ability to lift his performance for a game like this. He had a relatively quiet game when these two sides met back in November, and had little impact in the two games against Tottenham that sent Dortmund out of Europe.
If he delivers on Saturday the hype train will go into overdrive. But he has a few questions to answer first.
🤩🤝 Most assists in the Top 5 leagues in Europe...— The Sportsman Stats (@SportsmanStats) April 5, 2019
- Sancho: 13
- Hazard: 12
- Messi: 12
- Eriksen: 11
- Di Maria: 10 pic.twitter.com/3RXhDX5sJ2