Robert Lewandowski scored a hat-trick on his 100th Champions League appearance as Bayern Munich booked their place in the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League knockouts with two games to spare, courtesy of a 5-2 win over Benfica.
Bayern Munich 5-2 Benfica
Goals: 1-0 Lewandowski 26’ (assist: Coman), 2-0 Gnabry 31’ (assist: Lewandowski), 2-1 Morato 38’ (assist: Grimaldo), 3-1 Sane 51’ (assist: Davies), 4-1 Lewandowski 61’ (assist: Sane), 4-2 Nunez 74’ (assist: Joao Mario), 5-2 Lewandowski 84’ (assist: Neuer)
Bayern won the reverse fixture 4-0, but were given an early scare when Benfica scored from a corner, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside. The record champions heeded the warning, and took the lead as Lewandowski headed home Kingsley Coman's back-post cross. Five minutes later, Lewandowski turned provider for Serge Gnabry for 2-0. Benfica became the first team to score against Bayern in this season’s competition as Morato headed past Manuel Neuer following a short-corner routine, before Lewandowski saw a penalty saved by former VfB Stuttgart goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos.
Bayern went up a gear after the restart, with Joshua Kimmich, Coman and Alphonso Davies combining for Leroy Sane to slam in an exquisite volley. Lewandowski then made amends for his penalty miss by dinking the ball over Vlachodimos, with Kimmich again the catalyst and Sane supplying the final pass. Benfica substitute Darwin Nunez pulled a goal back against the run of play, but the day belonged to Bayern and Lewandowski. With five minutes remaining, the Poland international collected Neuer's long punt and lifted over Vlachodimos to complete his hat-trick and send Bayern into the last 16.
- Lewandowski's 81 goals in the competition are the most by any active player after 100 appearances. Only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have outscored Lewandowski in the tournament's history.
- With 17 goals, Bayern are the current top-scoring team in the Champions League.
- Sane has produced four goals and four assists in as many Champions League outings so far this season.
- Neuer registered his second assist in 448 Bayern appearances.
- Davies celebrated his 21st Birthday with his first Champions League assist since schooling Nelson Semedo in the 2019/20 quarter-finals.
- Coman has scored or assisted in three successive competitive appearances.
Bayern: Neuer (c) - Pavard, Nianzou, Upamecano, Davies (Richards 64’) – Kimmich (Sabitzer 72’), Goretzka – Gnabry (Sarr 85’), Sane (Müller 72’), Coman (Musiala 64’) – Lewandowski
Unused subs: Cuisance, Früchlt, Roca, Stanisic, Tolisso
Out: Choupo-Moting (thigh), Ulreich (knee)
Coach: Julian Nagelsmann
Benfica: Vlachodimos - Gilberto, Verissimo, Vertonghen, Morato - Mario, Meite, Grimaldo - Pizzi (c) (Silva 64’), Yaremchuk (Nunez 64’), Everton (Goncalves 64’)
Unused subs: Leite, Fernandes, Bernardo, Otamendi, Radonjic, Ramos, Ferro Svilar, Weigl
Out: Almeida (muscular), Dias (muscular), Lazaro (muscular), Pinho (knee), Seferovic (muscular)
Coach: Jorge de Jesus
As it happened!
Bayern are through to the knockout rounds with two games to spare. Lewandowski scored three of five goals - and missed a penalty - in another ominous show of muscle from Nagelsmann's men. Four games played, four wins by an aggregate score of 17-2!
Lewandowski clips a pass from the left-hand side towards the back post. Sarr tries to force it goalwards, but Benfica get bodies in the way.
TIME ADDED ON
Three more minutes before Benfica are put out of their misery...
What a way to mark your 100th Champions League appearance. Bayern work the ball all the way back to Neuer following a corner. He pings a pass over the Benfica defence for Lewandowski, who's onside as he kills the ball with his first touch and lifts over Vlachodimos with his second.
GOAL!5 : 2
IMPRESSIVE FROM RICHARDS
Omar Richards powers into a challenge to disrupt a Benfica counter. He then shows great composure under pressure to get Bayern back on the front foot. The home fans appreciated that.
BENFICA HIT BACK
Julian Nagelsmann is not happy as Benfica score a second. Sabitzer misplaces a pass inside the Benfica half, allowing the visitors to break. Upamecano is treading water on halfway as Mario bursts away. He feeds the run of Nunez, who squeezes an effort through the legs of Neuer from inside the area. An unnecessary blot to the copybook, but surely nothing more?!
Every Bayern change has been met with warm approval by the partisan home crowd. Davies, Coman, Kimmich and Sane were all brilliant in their own way.
SANE ON THE PROWL
Gnabry bends a ball into the Benfica penalty area for Sane. He shows a great first touch, but his toe-poke doesn't beat the goalkeeper, who did well to narrow the angle. So much variation to Bayern's attacking play today! They're a joy to watch!
LEWANDOWSKI ADDS ANOTHER!
This one's pretty special, too. Gnabry wins back possession in the right-back area. The ball's worked between Kimmich and Lewandowski, before being chipped up to Sane on the edge of the area. He squares to Lewandowski, who touches it past Meite and nonchalantly dinks over Vlachodimos. Champions League goal number 80 for the Bayern No.9 - no one has scored as many after 100 appearances.
GOAL!4 : 1
CHAMPIONS ELECT?Bayern are breezing into the round of 16. Almost four group games in, and with maximum points, they've now scored 15 times and conceded just once. No other team has a better return at this juncture.
So close to a fourth Bayern goal. Kimmich advances and clips a ball towards the penalty spot for run of Sane, but he loops his effort wide of the post.
Pick of the bunch so far. Kimmich holds off three Benfica players before shifting the ball out to Coman. The visitors expect a cross, but instead the King plays it back to the feet of Kimmich. His cross into the box is cushioned by Davies into the path of Sane, who dispatches an exquisite volley into the bottom corner.
Both sides as they were as the second half gets going. It's still goalless between Barca and Dynamo in Group E's other contest, by the way.
HALF-TIME: BAYERN 2-1 BENFICA
Relatively comfortable for Bayern, despite that Morato response and Lewandowski penalty miss. They're heading for the last 16 with room to spare, as things stand.
You don't see this often. Lewandowski tries to hoodwink Vlachodimos with his trademark stuttering run-up. The keeper drops to his right, but the Bayern forward has his head down and has already made his mind up and fires straight at the prone Benfica stopper.
Verissimo is adjudged to have handled Goretzka's goal-bound shot. The referee doesn't need long to review the indcident. Lewandowski to take...
Davies wins back possession in his own half and kick-starts a Bayern attack. Coman and Gnabry combine to tee up Pavard, who drives off target. Lovely football from the record champions.
BENFICA PULL ONE BACK
Out of nothing, at that. A short free-kick catches out Gnabry as Grimaldo drives up the left and hangs up a cross. Morato rises highest to head in the first goal Bayern have conceded in this season's competition.
ALMOST A THIRD!
This time it's Goretzka with the pass - another one of the peach variety - to release Gnabry. He's into the box, but his first-time strike finds the legs of the advancing Vlachodimos. Bayern won the reverse fixture 4-0 - this could be another hiding for Benfica.
Bayern double their lead. Kimmich parts the Benfica defence with a superbly weighted pass up towards Lewandowski. He has Gnabry for company all the way and finds him on the edge of the six-yard box, where the Bayern winger flicks past the advancing Vlachodimos.
Who else? The Bayern striker powers in with his head after another fine Coman run up the right. That's his 79th Champions League goal on his 100th appearance. Only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have scored more.
GOAL!1 : 0
The break's on for Benfica after a Kimmich corner is cleared up to halfway. Sane uses his pace to put the pressure on Pizzi, though, with Davies darting back to regain possession. Superb work ethic from both men.
Gnabry swipes at air as Kimmich drifts a corner towards the edge of the area. Davies collects and forces a flying save from Vlachodimos with a curling strike from fully 20 yards.
Bayern are caught out by Everton's corner, but Pizzi appears to be offside as he heads back across goal. VAR confirms that hunch, and it's chalked off.
Lewandowski goes up to meet Coman's right-wing cross, but doesn't connect as he'd like. Goretzka meets with the loose ball, volleying wide. Bayern have taken charge of this one.
Bayern work it really well as Coman feeds Gnabry in the box. He takes aim, but Vlachodimos, formerly of Stuttgart, makes a fine stop.
DAVIES MAKES THE BLOCK
Benfica go on the offensive with a long ball into the Bayern area. Pizzi connects, but Davies is in the right place at the right time to block. The visitors come again with a teasing free-kick from the right that evades everyone on its way through the six-yard box. Goal-kick.
SO FAR, SO PERFECT
Three games played, three wins, 12 goals scored and none against: Bayern can seal progression to the last 16 tonight. They're going to take some stopping this season...
The teams are out at the Allianz Arena, with Bayern all in red, and Benfica head to toe in white.
LEWY'S CENTURYLewandowski makes his 100th appearance in the UEFA Champions League; he has 78 goals in the competition, including five in three group games this season. The FIFA World's Best Player and European Golden Shoe holder will find out if he's done enough to claim the 2021 Ballon d'Or at the end of this month.
Alphonso Davies celebrates his 21st Birthday today. The Canadian, who won the 2019/20 Champions League with Bayern, makes his 98th competitive appearance for the record champions since making the switch from Vancouver Whitecaps as an 18-year-old.
WATCH: UNION 2-5 BAYERNBeaten 5-0 by Gladbach in the DFB Cup, Bayern roared back away to Union Berlin to maintain their lead at the top of the Bundesliga standings.
MORE ON THOSE TEAMS - BENFICA
Benfica opt for a 5-4-1 formation. One booking away from suspension ahead of a crunch clash against Barcelona, Nicolas Otamendi, Julian Weigl and Rafa Silva drop out. Morato, Gilberto and Soualiho Meite are their replacements. Jorge Jesus' side are second in Group E, five points behind runwaway leaders Bayern.
MORE ON THOSE TEAMS - BAYERN
Julian Nagelsmann's back on the touchline following a period in isolation. He gives Tanguy Nianzou a run-out in defence, while Alphonso Davies and Leon Goretzka return at left-back and in midfield respectively. Thomas Müller had a hand in four of five Bayern goals against Union Berlin on Saturday, but drops to the bench. Serge Gnabry comes in, with Sane off the shoulder of Robert Lewandowski and Kingsley Coman out wide left.
BAYERN STARTING LINE-UP
Neuer (c) - Pavard, Nianzou, Upamecano, Davies - Kimmich, Goretzka - Gnabry, Sane, Coman - Lewandowski
Früchtl, Richards, Cuisance, Sabitzer, Sarr, Roca, Tolisso, Müller, Musiala, Stanisic
BENFICA STARTING LINE-UP
Vlachodimos - Gilberto, Verissimo, Vertonghen, Morato - Mario, Meite, Grimaldo - Pizzi (c), Yaremchuk, Everton
Svilar, Leite, Nunez, Diogo Goncalves, Radonjic, Rafa Silva, Weigl, Otamendi, Paulo Bernardo, Gedson Fernandes, Goncalo Ramos, Ferro
Bayern Munich have made a perfect start to their UEFA Champions League group campaign, and will qualify for the round of 16 if they do not lose to Benfica. They'll even be confirmed in first place, if they win and Barcelona do not beat Dynamo Kyiv. Stay tuned!