Bayern Munich beat Barcelona 2-0 at the Allianz Arena, to make it two wins from two in the Champions League this season.
The game had been billed as the Robert Lewandowski show which, given that it was his first time back at the Allianz Arena since leaving Bayern for Barca in July, was to be expected.
He had numerous chances in the first half but failed to convert them, heading over the crossbar, volleying over one-on-one, forcing an improvised save from Manuel Neuer and then, much to his frustration, threatening to score once more only to be denied by an acrobatic block from Noussair Mazraoui.
Lewandowski’s misses aside, Barca had the better of a frantic opening 25 minutes with Gavi, Pedri and Raphinha also going close. Gavi, in particular, was excellent in midfield, allowing the visitors to set the tempo.
Having weathered a spell of almost unbearable pressure, Bayern showed tentative signs of improvement as half-time approached. While they continued to make mistakes, not least when Neuer had the ball at his feet, Jamal Musiala and Leroy Sane gave them some impetus, with the latter teeing up Marcel Sabitzer for a shot which whistled past the upright.
Barca made a fast start to the second half, Raphinha firing just wide from the edge of the area. They conceded against the run of play, however, after half-time substitute Leon Goretzka, on for Sabitzer, had forced Marc-Andre ter Stegen to palm away a fierce drive from distance.
From the ensuing corner, Lucas Hernandez ghosted in ahead of Marcos Alonso to meet Joshua Kimmich’s clipped delivery and nod in at the near post. Barca were rocked back on their heels and, suddenly, their opponents seemed to be everywhere.
Not long afterwards an excellent passing move ended with Musiala slipping through Sane as he ran off his shoulder in midfield. His pace took him one-on-one with Ter Stegen and he slid the ball calmly into the back of the net.
Barca had plenty of opportunities to get back into the game but, just like in the first half, they failed to take them. The best chance fell for Pedri when he skipped clear in the box and dinked over Neuer, only for the ball to glance the post and bounce away.
Lewandowski left frustrated. While there were a few boos for Lewandowski before kick off, he was largely met with applause from the home faithful despite the acrimonious wrangle over his departure. If he thought that he would end the night in triumph, however, he was sorely mistaken.
The former Bayern forward, who scored 344 goals in 375 appearances for the Bundesliga giants, was uncharacteristically wasteful in front of goal, with his miss one-on-one on the volley especially disappointing by his high standards. Having scored nine goals in his previous five games in all competitions, he may have let the occasion get the better of him.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Leroy Sane (Bayern Munich). Musiala’s all-round play was just as good and he deserves huge credit for the grace of his assist, but Sane’s swish finish to wrongfoot Ter Stegen was the undisputed highlight of the match.
When he and Musiala were substituted on the 80th-minute mark, Sane was livid and stormed straight down the tunnel. While it will no doubt lead to another round of pointed asides about “attitude problems”, it was a fitting end to an explosive performance which gave Bayern the energy, drive and momentum that they needed to win.
Bayern Munich: Neuer 5, Pavard 5, Upamecano 8, Hernandez 7, Davies 6, Kimmich 7, Sabitzer 5, Sane 8, Musiala 8, Mane 6, Muller 6
Subs: Mazraoui 7, Goretzka 7, Gnabry 5, Tel 5, Gravenberch 5
Barcelona: Ter Stegen 6, Kounde 5, Araujo 6, Christensen 5, Alonso 5, Gavi 7, Busquets 5, Pedri 7, Raphinha 6, Lewandowski 5, Dembele 5
Subs: De Jong 6, Torres 5, Garcia 5, Fati 6, Kessie 5
9’ GREAT CHANCE! Pedri forces Neuer’s first save of the match, bursting onto a nice ball from Gavi and leathering a low shot at goal from close range only for the Bayern keeper to keep it out with his legs.
17’ LEWANDOWSKI GOES CLOSE! Gavi, who has been electric so far, picks out Lewandowski in the box. Having flicked the ball up into the air with his first touch, he volleys inches over from a position where he would usually expect to score.
20’ LEWANDOWSKI SQUANDERS ANOTHER CHANCE. Having peeled away at the back post to meet a cross from Alonso, Lewandowski heads at goal only for Neuer to push it away. Gavi recycles the ball to Raphinha, who curls one high and wide.
30’ GOOD CHANCE FOR BAYERN! Sane breathes life into Bayern’s attack, tearing up the right flank and cutting inside. With no clear shot at goal, he squares for Sabitzer who fires just wide from the edge of the box.
41’ LEWANDOWSKI DENIED AGAIN! This time he’s thwarted by an excellent block from Mazraoui.
50’ GOAL! That’s way, way too easy for Bayern. At a corner, Kimmich whips a delivery to the near post and Hernandez nips in ahead of Alonso to head in from close range.
54’ GOAL! Well, well, well. A lovely passing move ends with Musiala slipping through Sane as he runs off his shoulder. His pace takes him one-on-one with Ter Stegen and he slips the ball past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
62’ PEDRI HITS THE POST! Having skipped clear in the box, Pedri looks certain to score only for his dinked shot to clip the upright and ricochet away.