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Bayern Munich miss chances, but take aggregate lead in 1st leg vs. tenacious Benfica | Recap

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Arturo Vidal's early opener is all Bayern could get as Benfica matched the effort of the treble hopefuls.

Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Bayern Munich have not taken an aggregate lead to a second leg of a Champions League tie, but with an uncomfortable 1-0 win against Benfica, the German champions win their first opening leg match since February, 2014. Arturo Vidal got the games only goal not long after kickoff, and Benfica did their best to make sure they did not get a second.

Vidal made his impression early, making a late run into the box to get on the end of a Juan Bernat service. The glancing header was just enough to catch the young Ederson off guard as the ball bounced into the back of the net. His contributions did not stop there, the Chilean midfielder switching the play frequently as Bayern widened their attack. The midfielder was also Bayern's first line of defense, tracking back to help keep goal scoring threat Jonas at bay. Vidal's midfield presence and Bayern's wide tactics allowed Thiago time to flick a pass to Thomas Müller midway through the first half, but Müller could not beat Ederson with a shot.

Though Bayern were getting forward well and Franck Ribéry and Douglas Costa was putting pressure on Benfica's midfield, the Bundesliga frontrunners had trouble containing the Portuguese giants. Nico Gaitan and Pizzi tested the speed of Bayern's defense with early crosses towards Jonas and Konstantinos Mitroglu, including one from Pizzi towards Mitroglu Vidal frantically had to clear away 20 minutes in. Jonas had a chance to find the equalizer just before halftime after getting past David Alaba in the penalty area, but the Brazilian could not beat Manuel Neuer with his weak foot.

At the start of the second half, Benfica started to show why they have won 19 of their last 20 games in all competition. The Portuguese champions turned up the tempo. Just before the hour mark, Jonas beat his marker before firing away a shot. Neuer was able to punch the ball to safety, but not long after the chance Pep Guardiola replaced Joshua Kimmich with Javi Martinez, a sign the coach was looking for more stability in his defense.

The substitution removed the turbulent pressure on Bayern's defense as the Reds retook the initiative. Bayern could not manage to connect the final pass, and Benfica were able to stop their hosts in the crucial moment. Robert Lewandowski, who Jardel and Victor Lindelöf kept quiet for most of the night, was able to put a shot on target with a quarter of an hour to go, but effort was not hard enough to trouble Ederson. Vidal played Lewandowski through just before the 90 minute mark as well, but the striker could not connect with Kingsley Coman once he was in behind and the ball rolled out of play.

Bayern left chances behind on the Allianz Arena field, but they finally took the aggregate lead that has mostly eluded them in the Guardiola era. They take a 1-0 lead to Lisbon where away goals will be their friends as they try to advance to their fifth-consecutive Champions League semifinal.

Match Details

Bayern Munich (1-0) Benfica

FCB: Arturo Vidal (2')

Bayern XI: Neuer – Lahm, Kimmich (Martínez 60'), Alaba, Bernat – Thiago, Vidal – Douglas (Coman 70'), Müller (Götze 85'), Ribéry – Lewandowski

Benfica XI: Ederson – Almeida, Lindelöf, Jardel, Eliseu – Pizzi (Samaris 90+1'), Fejsa, Renato Sanches, Gaitan – Jonas (Salvio 83'), Mitroglu (Jimenez 70')