Bayern Munich moved to the top of the Bundesliga table as Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting hit a brace in a thrilling 3-2 win at Hertha Berlin on Saturday.
Choupo-Moting scored twice in as many first-half minutes after Jamal Musiala opened the scoring, but Hertha clawed their way back into contention in an incredible opening period.
Goals from Dodi Lukebakio and Davie Selke, the latter from the spot, reignited the contest before the break, but Hertha never came close to equalising in a quieter second half.
Julian Nagelsmann's men consequently claimed their fourth consecutive Bundesliga win, moving two points clear of Union Berlin ahead of their trip to Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday.
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) November 5, 2022
Manuel Neuer, returning to the side, saved from Lukebakio early on, but Bayern took the lead with their first attack as Musiala collected Sadio Mane's pass before firing into the bottom-left corner after 12 minutes.
Choupo-Moting looked to have taken the game away from Hertha with his quickfire double, responding to Leon Goretzka's blocked shot to finish below Oliver Christensen before prodding home following a goalmouth scramble one minute later.
But Hertha responded in excellent fashion as Lukebakio volleyed Marco Richter's cross beyond Neuer and they reduced the deficit further when Benjamin Pavard pushed Selke in the area, the forward then converting from the spot on the stroke of half-time.
Bayern were denied a fourth as Alphonso Davies was found to have been offside when Marc-Oliver Kempf put through his own net after the break, before the Bayern left-back limped from the field after appearing to sustain a hamstring injury.
The second half was played out at a far slower pace than the first, with Nagelsmann's side holding on to their slender advantage after producing a controlled performance.
What does it mean? Strong starters hit the summit
Although Bayern may be frustrated by their inability to seal a more resounding win after taking a three-goal lead within 38 minutes, Saturday's victory was a crucial one for the champions.
At least temporarily, Bayern are placed at the summit after they inched ahead of Union Berlin, who face Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday.
Bayern had already set a new Bundesliga record by scoring 24 first-half goals in their first 12 games of this season, and Choupo-Moting's predatory finishing proved decisive after Musiala provided them with another fast start.
Choupo-Moting on fire
With 41 goals in 13 Bundesliga games this season, Bayern have made light of suggestions their attack could struggle following the departure of Robert Lewandowski, and Choupo-Moting has been one of several players to step up and fill the void left by the Poland international.
Choupo-Moting has now been involved in seven goals in his last four Bundesliga games (five goals, two assists), having registered just five goal contributions in his previous 20 top-flight appearances.
Nagelsmann run continues
Hertha Berlin are a particularly favoured opponent for Bayern boss Nagelsmann, who is now unbeaten in 14 Bundesliga meetings with them (W10 D4).
Nagelsmann's teams have also scored 36 goals against Hertha in the competition, only hitting the net more often against Mainz (48).
Bayern host Werder Bremen in their next Bundesliga match on Tuesday, while Hertha visit Stuttgart on the same day.