Manuel Neuer made a handful of important saves in Bayern Munich’s 4-0 win at SL Benfica in the Champions League, further cementing their place on top of Group E.
Neuer registered a total of three saves, but all were just as important as a goal, the first of which came in the 33rd minute, when Neuer did incredibly well to dive out to his left to deny Darwin Núñez. After a first half disallowed goal from Robert Lewandowski and a disallowed goal from Thomas Muller early in the second half, a brace from Leroy Sane, an own goal from Benfica’s Everton Soares, and a goal from Lewandowski rounded out the 4-0 win for Bayern.
Contrary to the 5-1 thrashing of Bayer Leverkusen over the weekend, Bayern did the damage in the second half in Lisbon against Benfica. Bayern certainly had some clear cut chances in the first half, including Lewandowski’s disallowed goal as he was ruled to have used his arm in the process of scoring, but after the match, Neuer said he was really impressed with the way Bayern played in the second half, in particular. “I think the second half was outstanding. We got off to a good start against Leverkusen. But we didn’t allow a lot, and there was also a very good goalkeeper on the opposite side. Then we had bad luck with the VAR, that will have been correct. But if we score earlier, it’s easier for us,” he explained (Tz).
The woodwork did come to Bayern’s rescue more than once, but Neuer stepped up when he was called upon. Both sides had chances in the beginning stage of the second half and Neuer’s, arguably, second best save came shortly after Muller’s goal was disallowed when he dove to his right to parry away Diogo Gonçalves’s left-footed curler from just a few yards inside the box. The introduction of Serge Gnabry when he came on for Benjamin Pavard in the 60th minute slightly changed the dynamic for Bayern and gave Benfica fresh concerns to worry about, tilting momentum in Bayern’s favor from that point on.
The occasion also marked appearance number 100 in the Champions League for Neuer as a Bayern Munich player. In total, he’s now made a grand total of 122 appearances in the competition between his time at both Schalke 04 and Bayern. He’s joint 14th for the most Champions League appearances alongside Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique, both of whom have all of their appearances with Barcelona, barring four at Manchester United for Pique. Needless to say, it was another milestone moment at Bayern for Neuer, marked with another clean sheet. “That is of course gigantic. Of course, I wouldn’t have believed that at the beginning of my career. It was great to be able to play here again,” he said of the personal milestone.