Bayern Munich 6 Mainz 0: James hat-trick sends champions back to summit after Liverpool loss
James Rodriguez scored his first Bayern Munich hat-trick as Niko Kovac's side reclaimed top spot in the Bundesliga with a 6-0 home thrashing of Mainz that showcased the effervescent attacking that was lacking in their Champions League exit to Liverpool.
Borussia Dortmund leapfrogged Bayern with a 3-2 win at Hertha Berlin on Saturday, earned thanks to a late goal from captain Marco Reus, but the champions responded with their 13th win in their last 14 Bundesliga matches.
First-half goals from Robert Lewandowski, James and Kingsley Coman set up a crushing victory that sends Bayern above Dortmund on goal difference, with the leaders set to meet in a potential title decider on April 6 at the Allianz Arena.
James netted twice more after the break to claim the match ball before Alphonso Davies recorded his first Bundesliga goal, the champions having scored 17 times in their last three league games.
Bayern made a blistering start and led inside three minutes, Lewandowski steering home a near-post volley from David Alaba's left-wing cross.
The early onslaught continued with Coman rattling the crossbar and James forcing an excellent save from goalkeeper Florian Muller with a powerful low drive.
Bayern's inevitable second goal arrived in the 33rd minute, Joshua Kimmich's ball into the box chested down superbly by Leon Goretzka with James sliding home a fine finish.
And it was 3-0 before the break, Mainz losing the ball on halfway with Goretzka sending Coman clear, the winger cutting inside off the left to whip a superb strike across the helpless Muller.
Mainz could not stem the tide after the interval either, James finding the bottom-left corner with a curling 20-yard effort in the 51st minute before then securing his treble with a sublime chip.
Bayern made it back-to-back 6-0 home wins in the league by completing the scoring in the 70th minute. Muller denied Lewandowski but he was unable to stop teenager Davies smashing in the rebound.
What does it mean? Bayern ruthless and relentless
As poor as Bayern were against Liverpool in midweek, they were excellent in establishing a 3-0 first-half lead that was not remotely flattering and they did not let up after the break.
Bayern have won six in a row at home in the league, conceding just twice in that run, form which makes Dortmund's task in next month's clash look tough. Mainz, meanwhile, have lost six of their last seven league games and Sandro Schwarz's side are not yet safe.
James runs the show
Performances like this from James make it a mystery why Bayern are yet to confirm they will definitely trigger their purchase option at the end of his two-year loan from Real Madrid.
The gulf in class between James and Mainz was vast and the Colombia international, who scored his first hat-trick since 2011, is becoming an increasingly key piece of the puzzle for Kovac.
3 - @jamesdrodriguez scored his first hat-trick for @FCBayernEN (@FCBayernUS) - the last time he scored 3 goals was in 2011 for Porto against Vitoria Guimaraes. Triple. #FCBM05pic.twitter.com/WwTbcN4yxf— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) March 17, 2019
Hack error hands James match ball
Mainz were already heading for a heavy defeat but, when Alexander Hack lost the ball on the edge of his own penalty area, James was left with a simple task to complete his hat-trick.
Bayern are away to Freiburg when the Bundesliga returns after the international break on March 30. On the same day, Mainz hope to break their bad run when they travel to Werder Bremen.