With first place in their Champions League group on the line, Bayern and Ajax were bound to come out aggressive and leave everything out on the field. Both teams certainly didn’t disappoint and clashed in every moment of the game. Each side was forced to play with ten men, and that only made the game more open and more competitive.
The scoreline suggests that Bayern drew, but I personally don’t count that last goal scored by Ajax. Klaas Jan Huntelaar was a clear yard offside and still needed Niklas Süle to tap it in. Despite that, the referees did a very good job impartially controlling the game. Undeterred by tempers flaring and heads bleeding, the refs maintained order. (But this still didn’t take from the drama of the game).
Jersey Swap: Andre Onana
If it weren’t for their goalkeeper’s multiple acrobatic saves, Ajax would’ve found themselves with an even steeper mountain to climb. Robert Lewandowski was frustrated more than once when searching for his hat trick, and it wasn’t at the hands of the opposition defense. Onana did a good job bailing out his team’s rather lackluster defense, and gave them inspiration to almost come back and win.
Tip of the Cap: Thiago
Before Thiago entered the game, Bayern was struggling every time they tried to build from the back and progress up the field. Thiago was able to provide stability in that position, as well as make a good move forward and draw a penalty. Similar to Coman, he was able to contribute well in a game that was starting to spiral out of control. Having the option of throwing the Spaniard into a game late on is a great advantage that Niko Kovac will surely appreciate.
Golf Clap: Niklas Süle
Okay, okay. Before you say that it was a Süle own goal that let Ajax back into the game, let me hit my aforementioned point. Huntelaar was way offside on the deflected shot, and Süle did a good job adapting to this situation and got back into the play to defend the cross. Unfortunately he just delayed the inevitable and the ball still rolled into his goal. Before this point, Süle was a wall in defence and provided six interceptions and two blocked shots. The result of this game was more of a result of bad bounces and Jerome Boateng making a dumb foul.
Standing Ovation: Kingsley Coman
After missing several months due to injury, Coman came on and had an immediate impact in his second game back. He provided a speed and elusiveness that Franck Ribery couldn’t give Bayern down the left flank. Eventually he was able to give Bayern the lead with a beautifully curved shot past Onana. These effects were pleasant reminders of what spark Coman can bring to a side that had begun to slip. If we need anything this year, it would be that spark and rejuvenation.
Meister of the Match: Robert Lewandowski
It seems like this is always the case for Champions League games now. Lewandowski was able to grab two goals and probably could have had even more. Today’s game takes his tally up to 53 goals in the competition throughout his career. He provides a constant threat both in the air and on the ground, and per usual, his goals decided this game. It’s hard to imagine a Bayern win without a Lewandowski goal (come on, besides the Bremen game).
I”ll just leave this here:
Wow.. pic.twitter.com/OL7B9ZQU9Z— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) December 12, 2018