Bayern s Robert Lewandowski celebrates after scoring his side s second goal during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich (AP)
After suffering a shock defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt two weeks ago and losing top spot to Borussia Dortmund overnight, Bayern bounced back in style against fellow title hopefuls Leverkusen.
Level on points in first and second before the weekend, the gulf in class between the two teams became apparent as Bayern put their hosts to the sword with a brutal and brilliant first-half performance.
"It sounds a bit strange when you've scored five goals, but we could have had six or seven in the first half today," Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann told broadcaster DAZN.
The 31-time German champions smashed in four goals in the space of seven minutes in the first half to humiliate a young Leverkusen side and go a point clear of Borussia Dortmund at the top of the table.
"It was clear after 45 minutes that the three points were coming to Munich," said Lewandowski, who kick-started the rout with the opening two goals.
"We knew that we would have to play our football from the beginning today, and the result shows how well we played."
'Best team in Germany'
It took Bayern less than four minutes to go ahead, Lewandowski converting a Dayot Upamecano cross with a brilliant backheel to net his eighth goal of the season.
Leroy Sane hit the post shortly afterwards, as Leverkusen struggled to control a sparkling Bayern attack.
On the half-hour mark, the visitors carved through their opponents on the counter-attack, with Alphonso Davies bursting into the box to set up a poacher's finish from Lewandowski.
Thomas Mueller quickly made it 3-0, deflecting a Niklas Suele shot past a helpless Lukas Hradecky.
Any hope of a Leverkusen fightback was buried just seconds later, as Mueller set up Gnabry with a low cross to make it 4-0.
Gnabry added a fifth on 37 minutes after a sharp one-two with Leon Goretzka.
Leverkusen rallied in the second half, Kerem Demirbay forcing a save from Manuel Neuer before Patrik Schick pulled a goal back.
"Bayern showed us today why they are the best team in Germany and one of the best in Europe," said Leverkusen coach Gerardo Seoane.
English defender Omar Richards came on as a second-half substitute to make only his second appearance for Bayern since signing from Reading earlier this year, and Lucas Hernandez started the game despite being expected in court in Spain on Tuesday.
French international Hernandez potentially faces six months in prison for breaking a restraining order imposed on him in 2017 following an altercation with his then girlfriend, whom he has since married.
Bayern continue their Champions League group stage campaign with a trip to Benfica on Wednesday, while Leverkusen meet Real Betis in the Europa League on Thursday.