Coutinho stars as Bayern bounces back to rout Bremen 6-1
By CIAR�?N FAHEY
BERLIN (AP) Philippe Coutinho has finally lived up to Bayern Munich's high hopes for the Brazil playmaker.
Coutinho scored a hat trick and set up two more goals to help Bayern end its two-game losing run in the Bundesliga with a 6-1 rout of Werder Bremen on Saturday.
"That was his game," said fellow goal-scorer Robert Lewandowski, who grabbed two.
Substitute Thomas Muller scored the other goal as Bayern bounced back from successive 2-1 defeats to Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen.
Bremen's visit came just at the right time for the seven-time defending champion. Bremen had lost its previous 20 competitive games against Bayern, 17 in the league and three in the German Cup.
Coutinho gave a demonstration of what Bayern had been expecting when it signed him on loan with a purchase option for 120 million euros ($133 million) from Barcelona in the offseason.
"It was fun for everyone who was in the stadium," Bayern coach Hansi Flick said of the 27-year-old Coutinho. "The team was delighted for him, that he produced such a performance on the pitch. Three goals scored, two made - that was simply class!"
However, Florian Kohfeldt's team gave Bayern a scare when Milot Rashica rifled a shot from outside the penalty area past Manuel Neuer to open the scoring in the 24th minute.
Jiri Pavlenka denied Lewandowski in the 40th, when the Poland star only had the goalkeeper to beat, and then saved Coutinho's effort from the rebound.
But the Bremen 'keeper was beaten twice before the break. Serge Gnabry gave Coutinho a tap-in in the 45th and the Brazilian set up Lewandowski to break his two-game scoring drought in first-half injury time. Lewandowski had scored in the first 12 games of the season, a record, before an unexpected dry spell.
Coutinho's second goal in the 63rd all but sealed the win, but the goals kept coming with Lewandowski grabbing his second in the 72nd, Coutinho setting up Muller in the 75th and completing his hat trick in the 78th.
"Today it was important to get the points to move back up the table," Coutinho said. Bayern moved up to fourth with the win.
The Brazilian came off to enthusiastic applause in the 82nd for New Zealand's Sarpreet Singh, who came on for his Bayern debut.
Leipzig went top with a 3-0 win at Fortuna Dusseldorf in the visitors' sixth consecutive win.
Patrik Schick opened the scoring early, Timo Werner added a penalty and Nordi Mukiele completed the scoring as Leipzig moved two points clear of Gladbach, which can reclaim the lead with a win at Wolfsburg on Sunday.
Jurgen Klinsmann claimed his first win in charge of Hertha Berlin thanks to Vladimir Darida's rocket inside the left post for a 1-0 home victory over high-flying Freiburg.
Darida let fly from outside the penalty area to decide a lackluster game in the 53rd. It was Hertha's first win in six league games.
"It was hugely important for the team," Klinsmann said. "The heads will be a little lighter."
Goals from Marco Reus, Jadon Sancho, Thorgan Hazard and Nico Schulz gave third-place Borussia Dortmund a 4-0 win in Mainz - its fourth consecutive win since its Champions League loss in Barcelona.
Cologne defeated nine-man Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 in the Rhine derby and Union Berlin was held to a 1-1 draw at Paderborn.
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Ciaran Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP
Updated December 14, 2019