England winger Jadon Sancho scored a hat-trick and revealed a “Justice for George Floyd” protest message in Borussia Dortmund’s 6-1 rout of bottom side Paderborn on Sunday that trimmed Bayern Munich’s lead at the top of the Bundesliga to seven points.
The outstanding Sancho, who now has 17 goals and 17 assists in the Bundesliga this season, joined a host of protests in the German top-flight over the weekend at the death of an unarmed black man in the United States.
Morocco international Achraf Hakimi lifted his jersey to deliver the same message as Sancho after scoring Dortmund’s fourth goal at Paderborn.
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George Floyd, 46, died in Minneapolis during an arrest by a police officer who pinned him to the ground for several minutes by kneeling on his neck, sparking protests across the US.
Earlier Sunday, Borussia Moenchengladbach’s French forward Marcus Thuram took a knee to protest Floyd’s death.
Schalke’s American midfielder Weston McKennie wore a “Justice for George” armband on Saturday.
At Paderborn, second-placed Dortmund kept their remote title hopes intact as Sancho stole the limelight with teenage striker Erling Braut Haaland sidelined by a leg injury.
“We’re going to give everything to win every game,” said Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Buerki.
Bayern are firmly on course for an eighth successive title with just six matches left to play, and Dortmund’s sports director Michael Zorc said the focus was now on securing Champions League qualification as quickly as possible.
“It’s clear that Bayern will be German champions at the end,” said Zorc.
After Dortmund’s attack struggled to break the deadlock, Hazard scored the opening goal on 54 minutes when presented with a tap-in by midfielder Emre Can.
Julian Brandt set up Sancho for his first goal three minutes later, with the England international receiving a yellow card after removing his playing shirt to reveal his political message.
Paderborn defender Uwe Huenemeier converted a penalty on 72 minutes to give the hosts brief hope, but Dortmund responded with four unanswered goals.
Just two minutes later, Sancho grabbed his second after good work from Hazard.
Hakimi made it 4-1 on 85 minutes when he was set up by Marcel Schmelzer, who came on as a late substitute.
Schmelzer then scored Dortmund’s fifth when he converted a low Axel Witsel cross on 89 minutes.
Sancho wrapped up the first hat-trick of his career by slotting home at the far post with the Paderborn defence once again shredded.
Earlier, Gladbach thrashed Union Berlin 4-1 to go third with Thuram scoring twice and taking a knee in protest at Floyd’s death.
“Marcus has made the point. He has set an example against racism that we all support,” said Gladbach coach Marco Rose.
First-half goals by midfielder Florian Neuhaus, who bagged Gladbach’s 3,000th goal in the Bundesliga, and Thuram put Gladbach 2-0 up at the break.
After heading in a cross from compatriot Alassane Plea, the 22-year-old French striker then took a knee on the Borussia Park turf.
“No explanation needed,” wrote Borussia Moenchengladbach on the club’s official Twitter account.
Just after half-time, Union’s Swedish striker Sebastian Andersson pulled one back after being left unmarked.
However, Gladbach pulled away when Thuram added his second following another Plea assist.
Plea then grabbed a goal of his own when he fired home off his left foot to wrap up the victory on 81 minutes.
After the final whistle, the Gladbach squad celebrated in front of stands filled with cardboard figures of fans.
There were 15,000 cut-outs inside Borussia Park, with home supporters paying 19 euros ($21) each to have their image at the game as fans remain shut out to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
After a 3-1 defeat to Leverkusen last weekend and a goalless draw with relegation-threatened Werder Bremen on Tuesday, this was an important win for Gladbach.
It lifted them to third in the table, but RB Leipzig can take their place if they win at Cologne on Monday.
On Saturday, reigning champions Bayern Munich edged closer to the title with a 5-0 demolition of Fortuna Duesseldorf as the league’s top scorer Robert Lewandowski netted twice.