Luca Toni hit a second-half hat-trick as Bayern Munich swept past Hannover 3-0 to re-establish their three-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga.

The Italy striker opened the scoring in the 58th minute after Hannover boss Dieter Hecking had been sent to the stands and struck twice more in the 64th and 82nd minutes to move Bayern clear of second-placed Werder Bremen.

The result means Ottmar Hitzfeld’s men have not lost in seven games and lead the table with 43 points, while Hannover have yet to win after the winter break and lie ninth on 29 points – six away from a UEFA Cup spot.

But the home side could have gone ahead after 11 minutes when Bayern defender Philipp Lahm sent a back-header over his keeper Oliver Kahn towards the touchline.

Hanover striker Mike Hanke kept the ball in play and sent a cross into the middle, but no attacker was on hand to turn it home.

Bayern came into the game as the half progressed, however, and Toni and Hamit Altintop both went close.

Hanke in contrast, playing as a lone striker, struggled to hold the ball up against a tough Bayern backline.

Home keeper Robert Enke did a fine job of keeping his side on level terms in the 50th minute with a point-blank range save from Bastian Schweinsteiger after the ball had fallen to the midfielder from a corner.

And Hanke had a chance at the other end moments later, but Kahn was well placed to keep out his fierce effort.

Hannover boss Hecking was sent to the stands in the 55th minute after complaining about a succession of decisions which went against his team and his departure precipitated a collapse from his side.

First Toni lofted a bicycle kick over Enke’s head from 11 yards after the ball fell to him from a corner.

And six minutes later it was two as the Italy international ran onto a fine throughball from Schweinsteiger and beat Enke to his right with a left-footed finish.

Toni sealed his treble with eight minutes remaining, the ball rebounding to him to head into an empty net after Enke had stopped his initial effort.

February 18th, 2008 Product Guide, 0 Comments