FC Bayern got off to a successful start to the 2017/18 Champions League campaign, downing RSC Anderlecht 3-0 on Tuesday evening. Robert Lewandowski opened the scoring, converting a penalty after 11 minutes. The visitors went a man down after the foul that led to the penalty, and although the Reds struggled to extend their lead at first, Thiago netted after the hour mark before Joshua Kimmich added gloss to the scoreline in the dying embers of the match.
The German record champions started with Manuel Neuer in goal and Joshua Kimmich, Niklas Süle, Javi Martínez and Rafinha in a back four. Corentin Tolisso and Thiago anchored a midfield featuring James in the playmaking role, with Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry starting out wide and Lewandowski as an orthodox centre-forward.
Carlo Ancelotti made four changes to the team that took on Hoffenheim on Saturday. Ribéry, Robben and the two recent arrivals Süle and James took over from Mats Hummels, Thomas Müller, Sebastian Rudy and Kingsley Coman. Jérôme Boateng was part of the squad for the first time after recovering from a stubborn injury.
The 70,000 capacity crowd at the Allianz Arena saw the Bavarians signal their intent from the off, James testing visiting netminder Metz Sels. Munich drew first blood when Anderlecht's Sven Kums upended Lewandowski, earning his marching orders. The Poland captain netted the ensuing penalty. That could have opened the floodgates but the Reds lacked the cutting edge and determination, their decimated opponents slowly but surely getting a grip on the match.
Lewandowski miscued a header before James' free-kick went over the bar, Sels denying a Martínez scissor-kick. The Reds shone with cunning back-heels and fine lobs, but lacked determination, failing to close out the meeting before half-time. Anderlecht's Stanciu could have even levelled the scores with the half-time whistle imminent when he found himself completely unmarked in the box, but his effort went wide.
Thiago and Joshua close it out
The second half almost began with a shock for the home side when Alexandru Chipciu hit the post from 15 yards. A Süle header drew a fine save from Sels, but Bayern upped the pace from the hour mark onwards, and it soon paid off. Tellingly, it was a plain, clincial move that doubled the lead, Kimmich charging down the right and whipping in a cross for Thiago to crash home.
Sels proved equal to a James effort before Süle had a goal disallowed for offside. Boateng replaced Martínez, making a yearned-for comeback after a long spell on the sidelines, with Müller and Coman replacing Ribéry and James. Kimmich closed out the meeting when he ghosted past Anderlecht's rearguard, sending Sels the wrong way with a fine swerve to tap in before match official Paolo Tagliavento blew for full-time.
The result means Bayern lie second in the embryonic Group B table, level on points with Paris Saint-Germain, who downed Celtic 5-0. The Reds are back in action on Saturday, when they entertain Mainz in the Bundesliga.
Live match report for fcbayern.com by Greg Salmen
FC Bayern - RSC Anderlecht 3-0 (HT: 1-0)
Neuer - Kimmich, Süle, Martínez (Boateng 77), Rafinha - Tolisso, Thiago - Robben, James (Coman 85), Ribéry (Müller 78) - Lewandowski
Ulreich, Friedl, Hummels, Boateng, Rudy
Sels - Chipciu, Spajic, Kums, Deschacht, Najar (Appiah 26) - Stanciu (Onyekuru 58), Derdoncker, Trebel, Hanni - Teodorczyk (Harbaoui 84)
Boeckx, Gerkens, Sowah, Obradovic
Paolo Tagliavento (Italy)
1-0 Lewandowski (12, pen), 2-0 Thiago (65), 3-0 Kimmich (90)
Ribéry, Tolisso / Trebel, Stanciu
- / Kums