The visitors lost Sven Kums early on after fouling Robert Lewandowski in the box, with the Pole converting the resulting penalty.
Yet after that they toiled to make the advantage count, until Thiago and Joshua Kimmich eventually broke a stubborn Anderlecht rear-guard.
Bayern don’t make most of man advantage
A mood of crisis has blown around Bayern since their loss in the Bundesliga to TSG 1899 Hoffenheim at the weekend, with Carlo Ancelotti responding with four changes – Mats Hummels and Thomas Müller were both on the bench, along with the fit-again Jérôme Boateng, whilst James Rodríguez was given a first start. Former 1. FC Nürnberg coach René Weiler made also made four changes to his team, playing five at the back, making clear his team’s intentions to soak up the inevitable Bayern pressure.
That game plan looked to have been torn to shreds little more than ten minutes into the game. Lewandowski was tugged back by Kums on the edge of the box as he got on the end of a Corentin Tolisso pass. The contact might have been outside the box but the referee saw it as inside, sent off Kums and booked Franck Ribéry for his overzealous appeals. Lewandowski inevitably converted the spot kick.
It felt like it was going to be a long night for the Belgian champions as it was, and as if it couldn’t get any worse, they would go on to lose Andy Najar to injury. Yet, the Bayern machine wasn’t quite finding its range. Rodríguez had put one chance straight into the arms of Matz Sels before the goal, and Lewandowski headed wide when Thiago found him in acres of space. Tolisso and Arjen Robben struck over as well.
Anderlecht were defending well, Uros Spajic making one notable interception on Robben. The ten men had a few promising moments themselves too, including an Adrien Trebel shot saved by Manuel Neuer. They had Bayern even more worried though when Leander Dendoncker set up Nicolae Sanciu, however he slipped as he went to shoot and could only go wide.
In truth Bayern had not had anywhere near the amount of chances one might have expected. They came close again just before the break, as a Rodríguez volley was blocked unintentionally by Tolisso. Javi Martínez’s overhead kick from the rebound was saved by Sels.
Thiago and Kimmich eventually add to the scoring
Bayern seemed to have had a rocket put up them at the start of the second half, as Tolisso had a ripper of a shot parried by Sels, with Lewandowksi and Rafinha also putting attempts over the bar. Yet Anderlecht again came close to shocking them, as Sofiane Hanni cleverly found Sanciu, with his effort past Neuer and off the post. The ball wasn’t clear but Stanciu eventually struck wide enough. But they had sent another warning shot.
There was certainly a greater urgency to Bayern’s play though. Another chance came the way of Lewandowski, with the Pole this time going wide, whilst Niklas Süle came close to a first European goal. His header from a Bayern free-kick was tipped over the bar by Sels. Rodríguez then put a good ball forward to Robben, but he had a poor first touch and Sels dealt with it.
Eventually Bayern found a way through. Most of their attacking players had a touch as they passed it around on the edge of the box, with Tolisso then sending it wide to Kimmich. His cross was perfect, and Thiago ran in to meet it and score.
Even then though the floodgates didn’t quite burst open. Rodríguez has a curling effort saved by Sels before Robben went just over with the keeper looking beat. In between that Süle did score, heading in a Ribéry corner, yet he was penalised for a non-existent push on Spajic. Lewandowski then spurned the chance to set up Robben for an easy third, taking one touch too many and conceding a corner. The Dutchman wasn’t too impressed; neither was Ribéry when he was asked to make way for Müller, throwing off his shirt as he came off.
Müller couldn’t make too much impact in the closing stages. A couple more chances passed Lewandowski by, whilst Thiago put an effort wide. Kimmich it was though who finished the job. He might have been offside though as he picked up a ball from substitute Boateng, but it was still a good finish after weaving his way past Sels.