The battle for Bundesliga supremacy heading into the league's winter break proved to be quite one-sided, with Bayern Munich having an easy go of it against RB Leipzig after a 3-0 win at Allianz Arena.
The clubs entered Wednesday's match separated only by goal differential atop the Bundesliga table, but Bayern took a 2-0 lead within 25 minutes and then went up a man after Emil Forsberg was sent off, putting its challenger on the ropes early on.
Thiago opened the scoring as the beneficiary of a shot off the post by Robert Lewandowski. The Spanish midfielder was in the right place to redirect the rebound home off his thigh, giving Bayern a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute.
Another Spaniard, Xabi Alonso, made it 2-0 from close range eight minutes later off an assist from Thiago. The sequence began with a poor turnover in RB Leipzig's own half, and Bayern was clinical in making the promoted side pay for its mistake.
Bayern took its man advantage five minutes later, as Forsberg slid, cleats up, directly into Philipp Lahm's Achilles and seeing a straight red card for the challenge, which will extend his winter break beyond what was already set by the Bundesliga schedule.
Bayern's lead reached 3-0 just before halftime, after Douglas Costa was taken down at the edge of the box by Peter Gulacsi. Lewandowski converted from the penalty spot on the ensuing kick for his 12th league goal of the season.
Both Lewandowski and Franck Ribery missed opportunities to extend the lead in the second half, but RB Leipzig never seriously threatened goalkeeper Manuel Neuer in the final 45 minutes, and Bayern heads into the winter break with a three-point edge in the quest for an unprecedented fifth straight league crown.
Save for a surprise slip-up against relegation-threatened Ingolstadt, RB Leipzig's first foray into the Bundesliga was going better than anyone could have predicted. The club sits right behind Bayern and has a sufficient cushion in its quest for a Champions League berth. With the Bundesliga getting three automatic UCL berths, RB Leipzig is seven points in the clear of fourth-place Eintracht Frankfurt and six ahead of third-place Hertha Berlin.
Hoffenheim, which remains unbeaten through the opening 16 games of the season, has emerged as another surprise after surviving a relegation fight in 2015-16. Guided by 29-year-old manager Julian Nagelsmann, Hoffenheim is 6-0-10 and sits in fifth place with 28 points–one point clear of Borussia Dortmund.
The Bundesliga resumes play on Friday, Jan. 20, when Bayern Munich heads to Freiburg.