Unsung and opportunist, Mario
Gomez is never in the running when the World Player of the Year
award comes around, yet the Bayern Munich striker proved again
on Tuesday that he is one of football's deadliest.
Four days after scoring a hat-trick in a 7-1 Bundesliga win
over Hoffenheim, Gomez notched his second four-goal haul of the
season in Bayern's 7-0 Champions League demolition of FC Basel
in their last 16 second leg match.
He has also scored three other hat-tricks, one of them in
the Champions League against Napoli, and his tally in Europe's
premier club competition this season is now only two short of
Lionel Messi's haul of 12 for Barcelona.
He has scored 35 goals in all competitions this term,
including 21 in the Bundesliga.
Unlike Messi or Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, there is
nothing remotely spectacular about most of Gomez' goals. Two of
Tuesday's efforts were tapped into an open goal and the other
two, although well-taken, came when he found himself unmarked.
But when Bayern's wingers Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben are
in full cry, Gomez is deadly
"The weekend match was very, very important for us," he said
after Bayern's 7-1 aggregate win. "We carried on where we left
off on Saturday. It was an outstanding match for us.
"But we have set ourselves ambitious targets and we haven't
reached them yet."
Tuesday's performance was typical of Gomez.
For his first strike, one minute before half-time, he had the
simple job of knocking the ball into an unguarded net after
Holger Badstuber escaped the Basel defence and sent a pass
across the face of the goal.
Gomez's second effort shortly after the break was his best
as he acrobatically volleyed home Ribery's cross, although some
Basel marking would have made his job more difficult.
He headed in a Ribery cross to notch his third, with
goalkeeper Yann Sommer beaten and not a defender in sight, and
got his fourth when he fired home from close range, again
unmarked, after Ribery did the groundwork once more.
Gomez had struggled to get into his stride in his first
season after joining Bayern from VfB Stuttgart.
But he sprang to life last season, scoring 39 goals in all
competitions, including six hat-tricks, and this season looks
set to better that total.
"I'm very happy for him because I have seen games where he
has been substituted and the crowd have jeered him," said Bayern
coach Jupp Heynckes.
"The fact that he scores goals is a reflection that the team
is playing well.
"A striker needs security and confidence and he gets that
from the team."
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