FULL TIME: Bayern win 2-0. Renato Sanches greets his former teammates and friends on the pitch. What a night for him!
93’ — Robben nearly makes it 3-0 on a last-minute run, thanks to a nice pass from Thomas Müller.
90’ — Three minutes of stoppage time to go.
88’ — Thomas Müller comes on for Javi Martinez, who seems to be in some discomfort.
83’ — Neuer comfortably catches another weak header sent his way.
79’ — Leon Goretzka replaces James Rodriguez. There seems to be some debate on the pitch at the moment. Niko Kovac and his counterpart have a brief discussion on the sidelines as they wait for play to resume.
72’ — Benfica take their chances off some Bayern mistakes. An intercepted through-ball from Boateng leads to one counter, and another is launched when Javi Martinez overruns the ball. Fortunately no harm comes of it.
69’ — Gnabry takes a great shot off a long forward pass from David Alaba, but he was ever so slightly offside and the goal is disallowed.
65’ — Sanches with another outstanding play: Kimmich sends in a cross from out wide and Sanches dummies it, letting Robben collect it near the edge of the penalty area. For once, the Dutchman doesn’t turn and shoot, but sends it out to Lewandowski. The attack unfortunately fizzles.
62’ — Several substitutions are made: Serge Gnabry relieves Franck Ribery; for Benfica, Salvio and Pizzi make way for Pires and Rafa.
60’ — Manuel Neuer reminds the world he’s still the best: James is called for a foul on what should have been a legal tackle, clearing the ball. Benfica’s free kick is very well taken, but Neuer sends Ruben Dias’s shot over the bar. On the follow-up, he catches yet another direct header by Jardel.
58’ — Seferovic takes a shot at Neuer’s far post just to remind him Benfica is still there.
54’ — GOAL BAYERN! 2-0: Call it destiny, orchestrated by Niko Kovac: Renato Sanches makes a blazing box-to-box run, outmaneuvering Benfica’s entire midfield. He finally passes wide to Lewandowski, who switches the field to the left for Ribery. Ribery finds James near the goal line and the Colombian lobs the perfect ball back just as Sanches finishes his run and hits it into the net.
That’s the Renato Sanches we remember from Euro 2016— B/R Football (@brfootball) September 19, 2018
[ U.S. only] pic.twitter.com/K0x4sN4fVY
The Benfica fans themselves stood and applauded their own. What a moment!
52’ — Mats Hummels receives a fairly dubious yellow card for what looks like a minor foul.
50’ — A strange case of role reversal for Bayern: Mats Hummels dribbles the ball forward through Benfica’s midfield and nearly gets a shot off from a one-two in their penalty area. Benfica counter, and it’s Renato Sanches who drops back into the defensive line, ultimately clearing the ball away as Hummels hastens to return to his position.
48’ — Lewandowski takes a knock on the ankle from Ruben Dias. Benfica sportingly kicks the ball out of bounds and Dias helps Lewandowski to his feet.
Second half — The ball rolls yet again. Benfica will have to take more risks if they hope to leave this match with a positive result.
Halftime — Bayern deservedly lead 1-0 at halftime. They have controlled the match by and large, conceding only a handful of real chances to the opponent. Most of the play has come from the wings, especially through Ribery and Alaba.
43’ — Bayern are caught at a numerical disadvantage when Benfica catches both Bayern’s midfielders too high up the pitch. In the ensuing attack, Cervi goes down in Bayern’s penalty area in a duel with Joshua Kimmich. The referee sees no foul, but Bayern may have been lucky.
40’ — Capitalizing on a slip by Ruben Dias, Ribery delivers a perfect cross to Robben. Robben misfires high, but Bayern win a corner anyway, since the keeper touched the ball on its trajectory over the goal.
39’— Jardel sees the yellow card for pulling Lewandowski to the ground.
37’ — No, that’s not your television: Mats Hummels really is wearing pink cleats.
34’ — Robben goes to the ground in Benfica’s penalty area and appeals to the referee. It looks as if some contact occurred, but not enough to justify a penalty.
32’ — Bild is reporting some trouble in the Bayern fan block:
Stress im @FCBayern-Block bei @SLBenfica - Polizei und Ordner greifen ein, stehen direkt unter den Fans - eine Sitzschale flog schon - #FCB-Anhänger weichen nach oben aus im Block #SLBFCB pic.twitter.com/psTNlrQQ96— BILD FC Bayern (@BILD_Bayern) September 19, 2018
The police and ushers are on hand directly below the fans. Apparently, someone has already thrown a seat, as the fans move up to the higher rows.
28’ — Some action for Manuel Neuer: David Alaba wins an aerial duel, but the ball flies to Benfica. Salvio takes a low shot at the near, but Neuer deflects it out of bounds. The Bavarians defuse the threat after the ensuing corner kick — albeit scrambling slightly.
27’ — Sanches is playing very aggressively. He’s more often found in the CAM position while James Rodriguez plays deep as a quasi-8.
22’ — Fejsa is shown the yellow card for a blatant grab on Lewandowski.
21’ — A cross by Alaba flies just past Lewandowski’s outstretched foot. Robben fires another cross back in from the right, but Lewandowski can’t hit it cleanly.
18’ — Yellow card: Joshua Kimmich. Kimmich sees the yellow card for striking his man with his arm. Kimmich is incensed. The referee points to the “Respect” badge on his sleeve, silencing him.
16’ — Ribery cuts inside and takes a low shot straight into the keeper’s hands.
13’ — Robben nearly makes it 2-0: Joshua Kimmich lofts a perfect long-range pass forward to the winger, who receives the ball in a one-on-one with Vlachodimos. The keeper manages to prevent Robben from taking a clean shot.
GOAL BAYERN! 1-0: Just like that, Robert Lewandowski opens the scoring on Bayern’s 2018-2019 campaign. After Ribery drives forward on the left flank and cuts inside, playing the ball back to Alaba, who had overlapped him. Alaba crossed in and back to Lewandowski at the top of the penalty area. Lewy’s defender overruns him, leaving the striker enough space to fire a shot out of the goalkeeper’s reach into the corner.
10’ — Benfica are doing their best to disrupt Bayern’s buildup play and launch attacks, but Bayern have thus far stayed in control. Renato Sanches is playing aggressively in the middle.
kickoff — We’re underway. It’s James Rodriguez’s first start this season, and Renato Sanches’s first game for Bayern Munich in over a year.
One hour before kickoff: Lineups are out! James Rodriguez and Renato Sanches start, while Thomas Muller is left on the bench.
THE CHAAAAMPIOOOOOONS! Sorry, got a little bit excited there. The Champions League is back, and Bayern Munich this time are taking on Portuguese club SL Benfica in the first game of the group stage. The game won’t be easy. The last time Bayern faced Benfica at the Estádio da Luz, it ended in a hard-fought 2-2 draw for the Bavarians.
In team news, Kingsley Coman, Corentin Tolisso, and Rafinha are all out with injury. Expect to see those names for in the injury list for a while, because Bayern Munich doesn’t so short-term injuries. Thiago Alcantara’s participation is doubtful, because he missed the final training session before the game with a toe injury. On the positive side, James Rodriguez, Serge Gnabry, Thomas Muller, and Robert Lewandowski are all fit and should be ready to go. Niko Kovac says that he wants to take all three points in his first ever Champions League game as a coach, and to do that, he has some great tools at his disposal.
It’s Bayern time.
Location: Estádio da Luz, Lisbon, Portugal
Time: 8 pm local time, 3 pm EST
TV/streaming: Find Your Country
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