SL Benfica proved to be hardy challengers once more for the FC Bayern Frauen, but this time the Bavarians put the Portuguese side to the sword with no need for late dramatics. It’s a 2-0 win to wrap up the group stage — and the calendar year — for the Bavarians, and first-year Bayern Munich coach Alexander Straus will have much to be pleased when heading into the competitive break.
Highlights below (presently mis-titled, the video is indeed from Wednesday’s match against SL Benfica):
Sydney Lohmann didn’t get on the scoresheet but was one of Bayern’s players of the match — threatening early and often. She nearly got the scoring underway midway through the first half with a driving shot that beat the keeper, but bounced the wrong way off the post...and turned on the style in the second half with an effort that asked everything of every single Benfica defender to keep out:
sydney lohmann - a 1v1 beast pic.twitter.com/HcJD3w3inr— carmenstadi (@carmen_stadi) December 21, 2022
Klara Bühl did score twice, in what has been a bountiful time of late for the German winger. Both were tidy, composed finishes after nice assists from Georgia Stanway. The first assist was an especially impressive long-range pass from the ex-Manchester City midfield maestro, now pulling the strings in Bavaria.
But there’s still something a little missing in Bayern’s attempts to control things all over the pitch. Benfica matched Bayern blow for blow, with nearly equal possession and passes, and both teams managing nineteen shots and nearly the same amount on goal (Bayern’s seven to Benfica’s six). Lost possession, sometimes in dangerous positions, was a theme. It was just that Bayern — Bühl especially — had the more ruthless edge.
Another category of distinction was fouls. Bayern earned two yellow cards on fourteen fouls to Benfica’s five. But it wasn’t only that Benfica players were sometimes going down easy. The most critical call of the game looks to have been missed outright by the referee, to Bayern’s advantage: Benfica forward Cloé Lacasse got the better of defender Saki Kumagai and slotted home what would have been a game-changing goal, but got called for a foul — even though it appeared that Kumagai was the one who interfered by tugging on her hair:
COMO É QUE ISTO É FALTA?? pic.twitter.com/mq6WjCHeMu— Rui Costa do Azeite (@rcostadoazeite) December 21, 2022
Lacasse wrote in response to the above on Twitter:
Shocking to see .. I get my hair pulled down.. still finish the chance. Ref calls a foul for the opponent. *Shocking* https://t.co/Bw0eWtnl03— Cloé Lacasse (@cloe_lacasse) December 21, 2022
Benfica will feel rightly aggrieved, but the better team probably still won on the day.
Bayern finish second in the group, level on points with FC Barcelona but at a sixteen-goal disadvantage in goal differential. The Catalans have scored 29 times in their six games.
The remaining qualifiers: Chelsea, PSG, VfL Wolfsburg, AS Roma, Arsenal FC, and Olympique Lyon. Real Madrid and Juventus are the big names to miss out.