Lewandowski eyes 49-year-old Mueller record after hat-trick heroics

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Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski is chasing the Bundesliga record of 40 goals in a single season
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Bayern Munich may have wrapped up a record-breaking ninth straight Bundesliga title on Saturday, but sharpshooter Robert Lewandowski still has one more historic target in his sights.

The Polish striker scored a hat-trick in Bayern's 6-0 thrashing of Borussia Moenchengladbach this weekend, leaving him just one goal short of Gerd Mueller's 49-year-old record of 40 goals in a single Bundesliga season.

Lewandowski, whose tally this term stands at 39, has two more games to equal and break the mark set by Bayern and Germany legend Mueller back in 1972.

"I have to be honest, I am astonished. I thought Mueller's record would last forever and never be broken," Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told Sky on Saturday.

"Robert now has two games to equal or even surpass it. It's clear that he will go down in the history of this club."

With 275 goals in 348 games for Bayern and Dortmund, Lewandowski is already the second-most successful striker in Bundesliga history after Mueller,

Last season, the Pole's 34 goals were the fourth most in a Bundesliga season, The top three places all occupied by Mueller, the legendary poacher of the 1960s and 1970s.

Nicknamed the "Bomber of the Nation", Mueller scored 40 goals in 1971-72, 38 in 1969-70 and 36 in 1972-73, ending his Bundesliga career with 365 goals in 427 games.

Lewandowski may never break that record, but he is within touching distance of Mueller's 40-goal mark.

"Gerd Mueller was my idol when I was young, but what Gerd Mueller was in my youth, Lewandowski is today," said Bayern coach Hansi Flick on Saturday.

"If he manages the record, it will have been more than deserved."

Flick also warned that Lewandowski "will need to be careful" as he chases the record, as he risks missing the last game of the season at home to Augsburg if he picks up a yellow card against Freiburg next week.

Yet team mate Thomas Mueller backed his side to help Lewandowski over the line: "If he puts away the chances we provide for him, then it will work out," said the 31-year-old, who has 19 assists to his name this season.

Lewandowski said he was "grateful" for his team mates' support on Saturday, adding that he was trying to keep a cool head as he set his sights on Gerd Mueller's record.

"It doesn't help to want it too much. You need to stay cool," he said.

kih/pb