Two goals in four second-half minutes saw Bayern Munich defeat Barcelona 2-0 in an absorbing UEFA Champions League clash at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday.
Lucas Hernandez rose highest at the near post to nod in Joshua Kimmich’s corner after an entertaining first half before Leroy Sane rolled in a second in quick succession.
Among the many talking points ahead of Tuesday’s game was the return of Robert Lewandowski, who only left Bayern for Barcelona this summer. He started for the visitors, who had their own big summer recruit, Sadio Mane, in their starting XI.
Bayern scuppered a few counter attacking opportunities early on, with heavy touches from both Sane and Jamal Musiala bringing good openings to an end.
At the other end, Lewandowski nicked the ball off Marcel Sabitzer before Raphinha and Gavi combined to set up Pedri. However, the youngster was denied by the legs of Manuel Neuer.
Gavi then crossed for Lewandowski, but the Polish striker could only head over at the back stick.
Barça continued to enjoy spells of pressure in Bayern’s half as Lewandowski spurned a great opportunity by blazing over from close range after Gavi’s neat pass. The striker soon had a header saved by Neuer before Raphinha curled just wide of the far post.
Bayern continued to show their teeth in attack as Sane beat some challenges and set up Sabitzer, but his effort whistled past the woodwork.
The action was enthralling with exciting match-ups all over the pitch, with youngsters Gavi, Pedri and Jamal Musiala all showing moments of individual quality.
However, it would be Bayern who took a firm grip on the game as they scored twice in four second-half minutes.
Hernandez broke the deadlock, heading in Joshua Kimmich’s corner at the near post, assisted by some very ropy Barça marking.
The home side doubled their advantage soon after as Musiala drove infield and fed Sane, who ran through the middle of Barça’s defence and rolled beyond Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Barça’s erratic defending ended up costing them the game but they still looked threatening in attack as Pedri poked an effort onto the post and wide.
However, Bayern closed out the victory to go top of Group C with six points, while Barça are tied with points with Inter after the Italian side beat Viktoria Plzen.
GK: Manuel Neuer – 7/10 – Stayed big to keep out Pedri in the first ten minutes. Some erratic kicking and distribution.
RB: Benjamin Pavard – N/A – Had to be withdrawn just after the 20-minute mark after suffering a blow to the thigh.
CB: Dayot Upamecano – 7/10 – Bailed out Neuer by forcing Lewandowski wide after a poor clearance from the goalkeeper. Sensed danger and made important interceptions.
CB: Lucas Hernandez – 7/10 – Struggled with Gavi’s insatiable pressing. Attacked Kimmich’s corner brilliantly for the opener.
LB: Alphonso Davies – 7/10 – Showed his brilliant running and dribbling ability early on out wide. Full of energy and attacking intent.
CM: Joshua Kimmich – 8/10 – Snapped into tackles alongside Sabitzer during the first half. Whipped in the corner for Hernandez’s opener. Started to run the show in the second half.
CM: Marcel Sabitzer – 6/10 – Similarly combative to Kimmich.
AM: Jamal Musiala – 7/10 – Displayed some mazy dribbling, including his run to set up Sane to make it 2-0.
RW: Leroy Sane – 7/10 – Ruined some good opportunities on the counter in the first half. Made amends by doubling Bayern’s lead with a great run and finish.
ST: Thomas Muller – 7/10 – Deployed further forward than usual. Thoughtful movement and positioning kept Barça’s central defenders guessing, even if he wasn’t the star in Bayern’s attack.
LW: Sadio Mane – 6/10 – Moved out wide and was culpable of ruining good chances on the counter.
SUB: Noussair Mazraoui (21′ for Pavard) – 6/10 – Brilliant block denied Lewandowski a clear shot on goal. Few moments where he lost concentration but stood up to the test.
SUB: Leon Goretzka (46′ for Sabitzer) – 6/10
SUB: Serge Gnabry (70′ for Mane) – 5/10
SUB: Mathys Tel (80′ for Sane) – N/A
SUB: Ryan Gravenberch (80′ for Musiala) – N/A
GK: Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 5/10 – Made a few parrying saves but didn’t establish much authority in his box.
RB: Jules Kounde – 5/10 – Given some hairy moments by Davies and Mane early on.
CB: Ronald Araujo – 5/10 – Couldn’t assert himself in the air. Decent first half as Barça kept their hosts.
CB: Andreas Christensen – 5/10 – Horribly out of position as both Musiala and Sane ran through when Bayern scored their second
LB: Marcos Alonso – 4/10 – Guilty of some statuesque defending when Hernandez put 1-0 up.
CM: Gavi – 7/10 – Constantly galloped into the Bayern box and played passes that split the hosts open. Fired a volley after tidy chest control.
CM: Sergio Busquets – 6/10 – The deeper and more conservative of Barça’s midfielders. Didn’t have the pace to keep up with Bayern’s pace but still managed to break up attacks.
CM: Pedri – 7/10 – Denied by a good Neuer save. Later hit the post with his side 2-0 down. Awesome to watch but couldn’t quite make the difference in the key moments.
RW: Raphinha – 6/10 – Had moments of bright interplay in Barça’s front three and dragged a few shots wide.
ST: Robert Lewandowski – 5/10 – Had some joy pressing from the front and linked nicely with his colleagues. However, wasted great chances to put his side ahead and it ultimately cost them on his return to his old stomping ground.
LW: Ousmane Dembele – 6/10 – Switched wings with Raphinha to change things up though his influence waned as Bayern took control.
SUB: Frenkie de Jong (61′ for Gavi) – 5/10
SUB: Ferran Torres (62′ for Raphinha) – 5/10
SUB: Eric Garcia (70′ for Christensen) – 5/10
SUB: Ansu Fati (80′ for Dembele) – N/A –
SUB: Franck Kessie (80′ for Busquets) – N/A