Allianz Arena, Munich - Cruising to a 5-1 win in their first game since the sacking of Coach Louis van Gaal, Bayern Munich took advantage of a dire Leverkusen performance to leapfrog Hanover into 3rd place and take possession of the highly coveted final Champions League qualification spot.
After a whole host of calamitous performances during this campaign under Dutchman van Gaal, particularly from the defensive ranks, any alibi for future under-par displays appears to finally have been removed after "King Louis" much-publicised overdue execution. Bayern strutted their stuff once again today displaying a definite freedom under van Gaal's former loyal assistant Andries Jonker. The Dutch "caretaker" restored stalwarts Jörg Butt, Daniel van Buyten, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk and Miroslav Klose to a reshuffled starting line-up.
Bayer Leverkusen could have closed to within just two points of Borussia Dortmund today but this drubbing, combined with the leaders' comfortable 3-0 home win over Freiburg, means the gap has extended to a daunting eight points and the fat lady is loosening her vocal chords in preparation for Dortmund's seventh Bundesliga title.
The visitors, cruelly christened "Neverkusen" for their inability to turn their slick passing football into titles and silverware, were second best throughout to a clinically efficient Bayern side.
Bayer skipper Simon Rolfes set the tone, gifting the reigning champions the lead with an unfortunate own goal. German international Rolfes could only deflect a Franck Ribery corner into his own net past his helpless goalkeeper Rene Adler on seven minutes.
Mario Gomez took advantage of a moment of madness from Arturo Vidal to double the advantage on 28 minutes. The Chilean international Vidal carelessly tried a cheeky back-heel just yards from goal to gift Thomas Mueller the ball and Gomez was then on hand to finish via a post.
"Super Mario" added two more routine goals in a double-strike just before the half-time whistle, leaving the visitors shell-shocked. Incredibly, Bayern led 4-0 at half-time despite having only three shots in the entire half!
Gomez now heads the Bundesliga scoring charts again after a 4th hat-trick of a prolific season for the ex-Stuttgart striker.
The second half was a bit of a non-event with the home side happy to go through the motions in the splendid Bavarian spring Sunshine. Leverkusen had the better of possession but the game was already done and dusted.
Polish striker Eren Derdiyok did manage some semblance of consolation for the visitors on 62 minutes when he punished some sloppy defending to pull a goal back. But Frenchman Ribery restored the four goal advantage by slotting home with aplomb with a quarter of an hour still to play.
Most of the talk pre-game had centred on Leverkusen's coach Jupp Heynckes' motivation for a win at the Allianz Arena. Certain doubts were cast with several latent accusations of divided loyalty. Heynckes quashed these questions surrounding his professional integrity, despite being fully aware that a win for his current team would probably serve a fatal blow to his future charges (FC Bayern) Champions League hopes.
Leverkusen have now failed to win in their last 21 visits to the Isar and Heynckes himself has never tasted success as a visiting coach in Munich.
After van Gaal's sacking, Uli Hoeness fully expected a performance "explosion". The Bayern President was not to be disappointed.
Despite the convincing 5-1 thrashing, Bayern could only muster 39% possession, their lowest rate since November 2008 - giving perhaps further evidence of a sudden shift to more traditional values under caretaker Jonker.