Tonight's Champion's League fixture saw Bayern Munich start their campaign off on the right foot after beating Benfica 2-0 at the Estadio de Luz in Lisbon. The story of the match was the return of Renato Sanches, not only to Benfica but also his return to the Bayern line-up for his first match in over a year. Even though Benfica gave the visitors their fair share of trouble, it was never in doubt that Bayern would walk away from this one with all three points.
Robert Lewandowski scores 46th Champion's League goal as Bayern dominates
The crowd was roaring for the home side from kickoff, but Bayern looked firmly in control despite the hostile atmosphere. The visitors had wonderful build up play, but Benfica did well to disrupt and launch counter attacks early on. While no real chance had emerged for the hosts, they looked sharp and up for the challenge in the face of superior competition. Despite Benfica's promising start, it was only a matter of time until Bayern broke them down.
It was Robert Lewandowski who scored the opener in the 10th minute, and the build up was simply brilliant. Franck Ribery started the move from midfield, driving down the wing before cutting inside. After drawing a defender, he left the ball behind for the overlapping David Alaba who did well to pick out Lewandowski in the box. After taking one touch to beat Alex Grimaldo, he picked out the bottom corner to give Bayern the 1-0 lead.
The celebrations from the visiting supporters had barely died down before Arjen Robben nearly doubled the lead. Joshua Kimmich played a perfect ball over the top to set the winger up with a one-on-one against the keeper, but Robben incorrectly tried to round Benfica keeper Odisseas Vlachodimos who deflected the ball off of the Bayern man as he went by for a goal kick. It was a massive save that kept Benfica out of an early 2-0 deficit.
Most of the half was dominated by the Bavarian giants, but Benfica had chances late in the half. Their first real threat on goal came from Eduardo Salvio who challenged Manuel Neuer with a low shot, but the Bayern keeper made an excellent save, stretching just enough to push the ball wide. Benfica also had a penalty shout right before the half after Franco Cervi went to ground in the Bayern penalty box. The hosts had a decent claim for the penalty, but referee Antonio Lahoz disagreed and motioned the forward to continue on.
Renato Sanches goal assures win against former club
The hosts had a chance early on as Mats Hummels charged forward to attack the Benfica box. After a one-two didn't come off for the defender, Benfica rushed down field with numbers on the counter attack. The attack was promising, but Sanches came speeding back from the midfield to cover for Hummels and clear the danger.
Shortly after denying his former club a chance at goal, Sanches found himself scoring against them to make it 2-0 for Bayern. After blazing through the Benfica midfield, he played the ball out wide for Lewandowski. The first-half goalscorer then switched the ball to the left for Ribery who rolled the ball to the goal line for James Rodriguez. The Colombian midfielder had space and lofted a perfect ball to Sanches who finished the play he started. It was accepted with a wonderful show of class from the home supporters who gave a standing ovation for their former player.
Benfica nearly found their way back into the game with an amazing free kick by Ruben Dias, but Neuer made a brilliant save to deny the goal. He made yet another top save from the resulting corner, saving a direct header from Jardel. The chances were there for the hosts, but they couldn't get past the wall that was Manuel Neuer.
The misery for Benfica nearly piled on as Serge Gnabry got on the end of an early cross by Alaba. Hardly on pitch after coming on for Ribery, he smashed the ball into the back of the net. However the flag was up, and the goal was disallowed.
There were some late chances in the game for Benfica, but nothing ever came of them as players failed to make contact with the ball or take their shot when Bayern made mistakes in the box. In the end, the Bayern Munich finished the match and all three points. Benfica will still be favored to make it out of the group ahead of AEK and Ajax, but a slip up against either side and they could find themselves on the outside looking in.