FC Bayern beat Benfica 5-1 on Tuesday night, booking a berth in the Champions League last sixteen in style and providing an emphatic answer to recent setbacks. Arjen Robben handed Bayern a two-goal lead before Robert Lewandowski twisted the knife before half-time. Benfica sub Gedson Fernandes pulled one back early in the second half, but Lewandowski soon rounded off his brace, Franck Ribéry adding his name to the scoresheet in the closing stages.
The German record champions started with Manuel Neuer in goal and Rafinha, Niklas Süle, Jérôme Boateng and David Alaba in a back four. Johua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka featured in a twin holding role behind Robben, Thomas Müller and Ribéry, with Lewandowski as sole striker. Renato Sanches, Sandro Wagner and debutant Wooyeong Jeong replaced Robben, Ribéry and Müller in the closing stages.
Arjen the hero
The Allianz Arena clocks showed 12 minutes had been played when the 70,000 crowd were treated to a brilliantly bamboozling bit of skill, Robben picking up the ball on the right, wriggling his way past a half-dozen Benfica men before hammering the ball into the far top corner of the net. Bayern were utterly dominant in the first half, their two defensive midfielders assisted by attackers dropping deep to provide stability in midfield, moving the ball forward at speed and finishing clinically. Robben's fellow winger Ribéry soon shone on the left, leaving a number of defenders rooted to the spot, but visiting netminder Odisseas Vlachodimos proved equal to his shot.
Lewandowski drew a fine save from Vlachodimos from 20 yards, Robben seeing an effort blocked, but the same player soon doubled the lead with his trademark move, cutting inside from the right. A certain Dutchman set up Müller with a perceptive chip five minutes later. Vlachodimos performed miracles to tip the headed ball over the net, but he was powerless against Lewandowski's powerful header from the ensuing corner.
Lewy and Franck add gloss
Bayern were caught cold after the restart, Fernandes beating Neuer after a give-and-go with Jonas. The German record champions soon responded, Lewandowski heading home another Kimmich corner. With their comfortable three-goal lead restored, Kovac' men increasingly engaged cruise control but always retained the upper hand.
Vlachodimos saved a Goretzka effort from distance before Alaba and Ribéry charged down the left with a quarter-hour to go, the Austrian thrusting to the by-line and setting up the Frenchman, who slotted home from 12 yards. Neuer intercepted a cross before a Lewandowski effort from no fewer than 45 yards went wide, and match official Daniele Orsato put the visitors out of their misery.
The result takes Bayern onto 13 points from five matches, two clear of Ajax. The Bavarians will be back in action on Saturday, when they travel to face Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga. Bayern and Ajax will battle it out for the victory in Group E in two weeks.
Live match report for fcbayern.com by Greg Salmen
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Neuer – Rafinha, Süle, Boateng, Alaba – Kimmich, Goretzka – Robben (Sanches 72), Müller (Jeong 81), Ribéry (Wagner 78) – Lewandowski
Ulreich – Martínez, Meier, Shabani
Vlachodimos – Almeida, Conti, Dias, Grimaldo – Pires, Fejsa (Semedo 76), Pizzi (Fernandes 46) – Rafa, Jonas (Seferovic 59), Cervi
Svilar – Zivkovic, Krovinovic, Castillo
Daniele Orsato (Italy)
1-0 Robben (13), 2-0 Robben (30), 3-0 Lewandowski (36), 3-1 Fernandes (46), 4-1 Lewandowski (51), 5-1 Ribéry (76)
Robben, Ribéry / Semedo