Created on 05-08-2015 at 19:35 PM by Chris Hamley
Robert Lewandowski struck a fully deserved winner two minutes from time to win the Audi Cup 2015 for Bayern in Wednesday’s prestige final against Real Madrid. Pep Guardiola’s men had much the better of the chances in an intriguing tactical contest with the Spanish giants but Thomas Müller hit the post and Lewandowski somehow missed when scoring looked easier, the Pole redeeming himself with the late tap-in to settle the star-studded clash and send the vast majority of the 71,000 sell-out crowd at the Allianz Arena home happy.
The Bavarians are in competitive action again this Sunday away to FC Nöttingen in the DFB Cup first round, before the official 2015/16 Bundesliga restart fixture on Friday 14 August when the Reds host Hamburg.
Five changes, reunion with Kroos
Guardiola made five changes to the team that beat AC Milan in Tuesday’s semi-final, with Manuel Neuer, Mehdi Benatia, Xabi Alonso, Müller and David Alaba replacing Sven Ulreich, Juan Bernat, Joshua Kimmich, Sebastian Rode and Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg.
It meant the German champions began with Neuer in goal, Rafinha, Jerome Boateng, Benatia and Alaba in defence, former Real man Alonso in front of the back four, Arturo Vidal, Mario Götze, Douglas Costa and captain Philipp Lahm in midfield, and Müller as the target man.
Madrid boss Rafa Benitez was without Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema due to injury and also began with Gareth Bale on the bench, but former Munich man Toni Kroos featured in the line-up captained by veteran centre-back Sergio Ramos.
After referee Felix Brych whistled play underway the men in red set eagerly to the task with Müller dragging an early effort wide, but the Spaniards responded with a crisp Kroos drive and a sly Cheryshev attempt. At the other end Real keeper Keylor Navas could only parry a swerving Alaba shot but Lahm failed to direct the rebound on goal.
The sides cancelled each other out for a long spell now and the pre-season nature of the contest was reflected in a raft of misplaced passes, but Costa looked lively and Ramos was forced into a desperate clearance on the half-hour, before Müller’s cross-shot rolled just a yard wide.
Alaba’s free-kick after Marcelo fouled Lahm on the edge of the box came to nothing, but Madrid enjoyed a let-off on 38 minutes when Müller’s speculative effort deflected off Ramos only to hit the post with Navas wrong-footed. The Costa Rica keeper then made a terrific reaction save to deny Götze from Costa’s cut-back, with Boateng a shade lucky not to concede a penalty against Ramos in the last incident of the first half.
Lewy’s late winner
With Lewandowski and Rode on for Götze and Lahm in the second half, FCB were initially on the back foot and Neuer made a great save from a Kroos free-kick. But Guardiola’s men were soon right back in it and, after Bernat and Höjbjerg had taken over from Vidal and Alonso on the hour, should have taken the lead only for Lewandowski to miss an open goal after fine build-up play by Costa.
Despite a raft of substitutions Real still threatened sporadically and Neuer saved sharply from Kroos before scampering back to clear from sub Asier Illarramendi. FCB kept probing away at the other end but Rode’s lob drifted wide, and Navas beat away Höjbjerg’s thunderous drive and Alaba’s free-kick.
Fabian Benko replaced Rafinha for the last ten minutes with the indefatigable Costa bringing yet another save from the Real goalie, but just as it seemed the game would go to penalties, Costa whipped in a cunning free-kick and Lewandowski cushioned the ball over the line to seal a deserved victory.
Live match report for fcbayern.de by Chris Hamley