Saturday, August 13 2022

Leroy Sane struck twice in the second half to inspire Bayern Munich to a 4-0 win at Benfica on Wednesday, as the German giants maintained their perfect record in the Champions League group stage this season.

Bayern have now won three games in three without conceding a goal and have one foot in the next round with a five-point lead at the top of Group E.

“It’s clear to see how hungry we are, that’s one of our biggest strengths,” Sane told broadcaster DAZN.

“We could have been a bit tighter at times in attack, but in general we are very pleased with the performance.”

The six-time European Cup winners were twice denied the lead by VAR in a hard-fought first hour, before Sane finally broke Benfica’s defences with a fizzing direct free-kick 20 minutes from time.

The German international added another goal and an assist in the closing stages as the hosts collapsed and Bayern cruised to yet another comfortable Champions League win this season.

“Leroy always trains free-kicks in the last session before a game, so it’s good to see that pay off,” said Bayern assistant coach Dino Toppmoeller, who directed proceedings from the sidelines in the absence of head coach Julian Nagelsmann.

Nagelsmann was forced to pull out of the game just hours before kick-off after coming down with what the club described as a “flu-like infection”.

“He was ill, but we were in contact for the whole game. It was a bit of an unusual role for me, but quite fun,” said Toppmoeller, whose side started brightly despite a daunting atmosphere in Lisbon.

– Neuer reaches century –

Robert Lewandowski forced two early saves from Odysseas Vlachodimos, while Sane shaved the post with a low shot across the face of goal.

Yet the Bundesliga champions’ formidable front line became increasingly starved of space as Benfica found their rhythm.

Lewandowski found the net from close range just before half-time, but the goal was ruled out after the replay showed the Polish striker had scored with his arm.

German-born Benfica keeper Vlachodimos pulled off another fine reflex stop to deny Benjamin Pavard just after the break as Bayern once again besieged the Benfica box.

The visitors had another goal ruled out for offside minutes later, before Manuel Neuer frustrated Diogo Goncalves with a flying save at the other end.

“He showed again why he is the best keeper in the world today,” said Toppmoeller of the Bayern number one, who celebrated his 100th career appearance in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Roman Yaremchuk also came close for the hosts, before Sane finally secured the lead for Bayern with a dipping dead-ball strike.

Bayern doubled the advantage 10 minutes later as Everton directed a Serge Gnabry cross into his own net.

Sane then crowned a perfect evening with an assist and another goal, setting up Lewandowski for Bayern’s third before smashing the ball in himself to complete the rout and claim his side’s 12th goal in three Champions League games.

kih/jc

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