Robert Lewandowski continued his spectacular scoring run, finding the net for an eighth successive UEFA Champions League group game as Bayern Munich defeated a valiant Olympiacos on Wednesday to reach the last 16.
Bayern Munich 2-0 Olympiacos
Goals: 1-0 Lewandowski (69'), 2-0 Perisic (89')
Lewandowski had scored twice as Bayern triumphed 3-2 in Piraeus when the sides met just over a fortnight ago, and the prolific Pole allowed his team, interim boss Hansi Flick and the Allianz Arena to breathe a sigh of relief on a night that could have fallen flat. Not that Bayern played badly in their first game since Niko Kovac’s removal as coach, but Olympiacos proved dogged, with Jose Sa Bayern’s frustrator-in-chief. The visitors' goalkeeper made a host of top-class saves, notably from the excellent Kingsley Coman and Thomas Müller. When Benjamin Pavard headed a Joshua Kimmich corner off a post in the dying embers of a one-sided first half, it looked as if the Fates had cruelly turned their backs on the hosts.
The direction of traffic did not change after the interval, but Bayern were again thwarted. Leon Goretzka’s bullet header was pawed aside by the peerless Sa, and Coman also failed to beat the Portuguese custodian with Bayern’s 19th shot of the game on the hour mark. But if there is ever a man to rescue Bayern in times of need, it is of course Lewandowski. It was going to take something special or unconventional to beat an inspired Sa, and Lewandowski went for the latter: the Bundesliga’s leading scorer unexpectedly diverting a Coman cross in at the near post with the outside of his right boot. Alphonso Davies nearly celebrated his Champions League debut with a stunning half-volley, but the ball flew narrowly wide on a night when near-misses might have cost Bayern. Lewandowski had seen to it that they didn’t, and Ivan Perisic swept home a loose ball from close range within a minute of coming off the bench to give the scoreline a gloss Bayern deserved.
Watch: A tactical look at the irrepressible Robert Lewandowski
- Lewandowski, who has netted 21 goals for Bayern in 2019/20, has hit five goals in six meetings with Olympiacos.
- The Pole has notched 59 goals in 84 Champions League outings. He is fifth on the competition's all-time scorers list, three shy of Real Madrid's Karim Benzema.
- Germany’s record champions have plundered 19 goals in their six encounters with Olympiacos (all wins).
- Olympiacos have won and scored in only one of their eight away matches against Bundesliga clubs - a 3-1 victory at Werder Bremen in the 2007/08 Champions League group stage.
- Bayern had 27 shots on goal compared to just three for Olympiacos. The Bavarians have won all four of their group games this season, scoring 15 and conceding four.
- Davies, who has now started Bayern's last four matches, made his Champions League debut.
Bayern: Neuer (c) – Pavard, Martinez, Alaba, Davies – Goretzka (Tolisso 82'), Kimmich – Gnabry (Perisic 88'), Müller, Coman (Coutinho 90'+1) – Lewandowski
Unused subs: Ulreich, Thiago, Cuisance, Boateng
Out: Arp (fractured wrist), Hernandez (ankle), Süle (torn ACL)
Coach: Hansi Flick
Olympiacos: Sa - Elabdellaoui (c), Semedo, Meriah, Tsimikas - Guilherme, Camara, Bouchalakis (Valbuena 71') - Randjelovic (Masouras 61'), Guerrero, Podence (El Arabi 79')
Unused subs: Allain, Benzia, Papadopoulos, Torosidis
Out: Fortounis (knee)
Coach: Pedro Martins
As it happened
That's one win for the Bundesliga in the Champions League tonight - can Bayer Leverkusen make it two against Atletico Madrid? Head over here to find out.
It's all over - Bayern make a winning start under Hansi Flick and they're into the knockout stages of this season's Champions League. That man Robert Lewandowski grabbed his 21st - TWENTY-FIRST! - goal of the campaign before Ivan Perisic came off the bench to seal a 2-0 victory.
90' JOB DONE FOR BAYERN
They have huffed and puffed a bit tonight, but Bayern's place in the last 16 is safe. The second goal came from a lightning counter - Coman slipped left to Tolisso, whose low cross took a deflection and fell kindly for Perisic, who blasted high into the roof of the net for 2-0. We're into three minutes of stoppage time and Coutinho has just entered the fray.
89' GOAL FOR BAYERN! (Perisic)
Yes they can! Perisic scores within about 20 seconds of coming off the bench!
87' BAYERN STILL PUSHING
Wonderful interplay between Lewandowski, Tolisso, Gnabry and Müller, but the latter can't quite get his shot on target. Can Bayern get that all-important second goal? Perisic is on for Gnabry.
85' CLOSE AGAIN!
Kimmich bursts into the area and sees an effort blocked by the Olympiacos defence. The rebound comes to Coman at the back post, but despite options in the middle he goes it alone and blazes over the crossbar.
82' TOLISSO ON
The Frenchman replaces Goretzka as Flick makes his first change of the night.
76' MORE CHANCES FOR 2-0
Davies is continuing to make a nuisance of himself down the left flank, but his teasing ball into the area is swept away by Tsimikas. A few seconds later, Pavard pulls the trigger from outside the area but it's well over. Anyone who watched the last FIFA World Cup will of course remember that he can hit them from distance...
The Canadian almost celebrates his Champions League debut with an absolute beauty, but his dipping half-volley from the edge of the area is just wide of the mark. That would have been special.
71' COMAN NEARLY MAKES IT TWO!
Gnabry pounces forward on the left and fizzes a low ball to the back post, but Coman can't quite turn it home! That could have been game over in the space of two minutes.
70' BAYERN FINALLY MAKE THE BREAKTHROUGH
It's been a while in coming but Bayern finally have the lead. Kimmich pings a brilliant long ball out to the right wing for Coman, who shimmies inside before crossing to the near post, where Lewandowski volleys past Sa for 1-0. His sixth Champions League goal of the campaign.
69' GOAL FOR BAYERN! (Lewandowski)
Never in doubt.
67' SEMEDO INJURED?
There's a brief lull in play with Olympiacos defender Ruben Semedo down and receiving treatment. It looks like he'll be OK to carry on.
64' CAMARA WELL OVER
A rare chance for Olympiacos as they break on the counter, but Camara's shot - their second of the match - is miles off target. The camera has just panned to Thiago and Coutinho on the bench - could Flick be tempted to make a change soon?
And another chance! Coman turns Tsimikas inside out but his powerful shot is parried by Sa. The Olympiacos keeper is perhaps the man of the match so far. The Bavarians have had 19 shots to just one for the visitors.
Gnabry surges into the area after a lovely one-two with Müller but his shot is well blocked by Meriah.
52' BAYERN PILING ON THE PRESSURE
Müller whips in a great cross from the right but it's just beyond the reach of Lewandowski! About a minute later, the Pole plays a cute backheel and muscles through the Olympiacos defence to latch onto his own pass, but his low shot is saved by Sa.
49' GREAT SAVE!
Kimmich whips in a free-kick from out on the right and Goretzka meets it with a thumping header - but Sa shows brilliant reflexes to make the save. Bayern win their 10th(!) corner of the game but it comes to nothing.
46' BACK UNDERWAY
We're into the second half and Bayern already have another corner, but the Olympiacos defence nod it clear.
Bayern will be frustrated not to be in front at the break, because they have completely dominated proceedings, with 13 shots to just one for the visitors. It's been a promising start to the Hansi Flick era - the Bundesliga champions simply need to be more clinical in the second half. Join us again in around 15 minutes.
44' OFF THE POST!
Kimmich takes what feels like about Bayern's 50th corner, and Pavard sees his headed effort clip the outside of the post!
40' COMAN GOES DOWN
There's a bit of contact with Elabdellaoui in the penalty area, but again, not really enough to merit a spot-kick.
38' GORETZKA OVERCOOKS IT...
The midfielder is trying to slip a ball through to Lewandowski, but it's just beyond the Pole. Olympiacos nevertheless concede a corner which comes to nothing.
Bayern's best chance so far. Coman somehow wriggles through a crowd of Olympiacos defenders and gets a stinging drive away, but Sa puts it behind for a corner. Then, after some brilliant passing around the area, Müller sees his low effort also held by the visiting keeper. This is better, more incisive from Bayern.
30' BAYERN DOMINANT
It's been all Bayern since kick-off, so Olympiacos will be pretty happy to have made it through the opening half-hour without conceding.
25' LEWY STRAIGHT AT SA!
A lovely ball into the area from Pavard, but Lewandowski's header is straight at Sa. Bayern are getting closer - just a touch more cutting edge required up top. Coman has a go from distance, but it's deflected out for a corner.
20' A FIRST SNIFF FOR LEWY
Bayern surge forward on the counter after an Olympiacos corner, with a long ball in from the right towards Lewandowski. He tries to anticipate the bounce but can't quite get his header on target and Sa collects. Meanwhile Coman sees a deflected cross flash just wide, while Goretzka elects to pass when he could shoot from the edge of the area. Chances coming thick and fast!
16' GNABRY HAS A GO
The danger is coming from all sides for Olympiacos at the moment, with Gnabry the latest man to try his luck - it's gathered by Sa. Careful though! A defensive mistake allows Randjelovic to get a shot off, but fortunately for Bayern he drags it wide.
11' GORETZKA FROM DISTANCE ONCE MORE!
But the Bayern midfielder can't keep his shot down and it sails high into the stands. It's been an all-action performance so far - with a little more composure the hosts could soon be out of sight.
9' MÜLLER DOWN IN THE AREA AGAIN
Olympiacos are caught in possession in midfield and Bayern nearly punish them, with Lewandowski clipping a ball into the area for Müller. He's muscled off it by visiting captain Elabdellaoui and goes to ground, but it's not enough to warrant a penalty. The Greeks holding on for dear life at the moment.
7' BAYERN ON TOP
Coman now tries to get to the byline on the left flank, but the Frenchman slightly overhits it and the ball runs out of play. Hansi Flick's men in control, they're just probing the Olympiacos defence at the moment.
Müller tries to squeeze a ball through to Gnabry but it's cut out by the Olympiacos defence - so the 2014 World Cup winner squares for Goretzka, whose well-struck effort is parried and eventually gathered by Sa. A positive start from Bayern.
3' MARTINEZ AND ALABA IN CENTRAL DEFENCE
Going back to my earlier point about Bayern's setup, Alaba (a left-back) and Martinez (a defensive midfielder) have lined up in central defence, with Pavard right, Davies left and Kimmich partnering Goretzka in midfield. Müller has just taken a tumble in the area, but the referee waves play on.
In the end that minute of silence ended up being a minute of applause, nice. We're underway at the Allianz Arena!
After the Champions League anthem, the two teams are observing a minute's silence in honour of former Bayern and Germany player Norbert Eder, who passed away today. They are also paying tribute to the club's former vice president Rudolf Schels.
PLAYERS IN THE TUNNEL
It's nearly go time!
LAST TIME OUT: OLYMPIACOS 2-3 BAYERN
Bayern made it three wins from three when they travelled to Greece in October, despite Youssef El Arabi putting Olympiacos ahead on 23 minutes. Lewandowski turned things around with goals either side of half-time, before Corentin Tolisso swept in a superb third to put the Bundesliga champions in the driving seat. Guilherme did pull one back, but Bayern held on to win 3-2 and stay perfect in Group B.
A CHANCE TO IMPRESS BEFORE DER KLASSIKER
Lest we forget, Bayern have a huge clash at home to Borussia Dortmund in Der Klassiker on Saturday, so tonight is a chance for the Bavarian players to stake a claim for a starting berth this weekend. BVB boosted their confidence before the standout clash of Matchday 11 with a superb come-from-behind win over Inter Milan last night.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE BOW FOR DAVIES
It's set to be a special night for Bayern's Canadian youngster Alphonso Davies. The 19-year-old is making his fourth consecutive start for the Bavarian giants, but this just happens to be his very first outing in the Champions League.
LEWY ENTERTAIN YOU
The biggest challenge for the visitors tonight is likely to be keeping Robert Lewandowski quiet. The Polish marksman has already notched 20 goals in all competitions this term, and he has four in five meetings with Olympiacos. Having already scored five goals in the Champions League this term, the 31-year-old will be looking to close the gap on the competition's top scorer, Salzburg's Erling Braut Haaland, who is currently on seven.
HOW WILL BAYERN LINE UP?
There's been plenty of healthy debate over here at Bundesliga Towers about how Flick's side will line up tonight. They may do as we suggest below, with Pavard and Alaba in central defence and Kimmich at right-back, but Kimmich could equally slot into midfield, with Javi Martinez dropping back alongside Alaba and Pavard to their right. Either way, the interim boss has left Jerome Boateng on the bench along with Thiago and Philippe Coutinho.
Thanks for joining us for live text coverage of this evening's Champions League clash between Bayern and Olympiacos. The Bundesliga champions are gearing up for their first outing under interim coach Hansi Flick, after parting ways with Niko Kovac in the wake of the 5-1 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt. You can all but guarantee they will be looking to make a statement at the Allianz Arena tonight.