Created on 05-04-2016 at 22:35 PM by Chris Hamley
An 11th straight Champions League home win means Bayern are in a promising position to reach the 2015/16 semi-finals after an early Arturo Vidal strike sealed a 1-0 victory over Lisbon giants Benfica in Tuesday night’s quarter-final first leg, although Pep Guardiola and his men know they still have plenty of work to do against the tenacious Portuguese outfit in the decisive second leg.
The 70,000 capacity crowd at the Allianz Arena saw Vidal hand the home side a dream start with a second-minute opener, but Thomas Müller was unable to put away the only other gilt-edged chance before the break. Munich dominated the second period but the visitors also caused sporadic problems and it remained a tight and tense encounter right to the end.
A draw would be enough for Bayern in the return in the Portuguese capital on Wednesday night next week, but the Bavarians are in Bundesliga action before then away to south German rivals VfB Stuttgart on Saturday afternoon.
Three new faces for FCB
Bayern boss Guardiola made three changes to the team that beat Eintracht Frankfurt at the weekend, with Joshua Kimmich, Vidal and Douglas Costa taking over from Javi Martínez, Xabi Alonso and Mario Götze. Kingsley Coman started on the bench after missing Saturday’s match with a minor knock, while Arjen Robben, Jerome Boateng and Holger Badstuber remain sidelined with injury.
The home team lined up with Manuel Neuer in goal, Juan Bernat, David Alaba, Kimmich and skipper Philipp Lahm in the back four, Vidal in the holding role, Thiago in central midfield, Costa and Franck Ribery on the wings, and Müller and Lewandowski up front.
For the Portuguese record champions, boss Rui Vitoria sent out a side unchanged from last Friday’s 5-1 domestic league victory over SC Braga, with danger duo Jonas and Kostas Mitroglou spearheading the attack.
Spurred on by a cracking atmosphere at the magnificent Arena, the Reds had the lead just two minutes after Polish referee Szymon Marciniak whistled play underway when Costa, Ribery and Lewandowski combined to release Bernat for a cross from the left, Vidal shrugging off Eliseu’s challenge and applying a neat headed finish from six yards.
FCB were firmly in control and Costa warmed Benfica keeper Ederson’s gloves, before the shot-stopper saved bravely at Lewandowski’s feet and then expertly blocked the unmarked Müller’s volley from a Thiago cross, a glorious chance that had the crowd already rising to hail a second Bayern goal.
The miss slightly took the wind out of the home team’s sails and the visitors gained a toehold for a spell, but Guardiola’s men regained the initiative on the half-hour as Vidal and Müller just failed to pull off a cunning free-kick routine, and the Chilean’s downward header from the Germany striker’s cross bounced over the bar. However, the half ended with Vitoria’s side on the attack and Vidal made a crucial block to deny Nicolas Gaitan.
Goalless second half
The men in red tried their best to push on in the early stages after the restart but there was a scare after 57 minutes when the lurking Jonas seized possession in the box and fired goalwards, forcing Neuer into a sharp reaction save. Bernat twice tried his luck before Guardiola sent on Martinez for Kimmich just short of the hour mark.
But Portuguese tails were up now and Jonas blazed over the bar after a moment of confusion in the Bayern box. Coman took over from Costa with 20 minutes to go but the attacking moves were mainly inspired by Ribery on the left, both Lahm and Lewandowski failing to get purchase on crosses from the Frenchman.
Ederson saved with his feet from Ribery after the winger cut inside and shot and Lewandowski headed over from a corner, with Mario Götze replacing Müller in the 85th minute. Lewandowski’s unselfishness was his downfall two minutes from time when he chose to pass rather than shoot and it stayed 1-0 through to the end.
Live match report for fcbayern.de by Chris Hamley