Bayern Munich are headed to the Champions League last 16 after earning a 2-0 win over a lacklustre Olympiacos in Group B
Robert Lewandowski and Ivan Perisic were on target as Bayern Munich started the post Niko Kovac era with a 2-0 win over Olympiacos that secured qualification for the Champions League last 16.
A humiliating 5-1 defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday brought an end to Kovac’s 16-month tenure and caretaker boss Hansi Flick saw his side frustrated for large parts by Jose Sa.
The visiting goalkeeper made several sharp stops and Benjamin Pavard hit the post, but Lewandowski’s sixth goal of the group stage broke the away side’s resolve.
Substitute Perisic made sure of the points late on meaning Bayern are guaranteed to progress from Group B, leaving Flick to now prepare Bayern for a crucial Bundesliga clash with Borussia Dortmund.
Thomas Muller saw a couple of half shouts for penalties turned down either side of Sa reacting sharply to a low Leon Goretzka drive as Bayern started brightly.
David Alaba’s untimely stumble allowed Olympiacos a rare sight at goal but Lazar Randjelovic dragged wide of the right post.
Lewandowski headed Pavard’s pin-point cross straight at Sa, who was also alert to deny Kingsley Coman’s improvised toe poke after a mazy run.
Pavard’s awkward effort off his chest struck the post at the end of the half and Sa made a fine save from Goretzka’s point-blank header shortly after the restart.
Sa was called into action again by Coman’s stinging effort, but he was finally beaten in the 69th minute when the France winger’s teasing low delivery from the right was cutely steered home by Lewandowski at the front post.
A more deserved-looking scoreline arrived in the final minute when Perisic rifled high into the roof of the goal after Coman’s deflected cross fell into his path.
What does it mean? Bayern show much-needed resolve
After the Frankfurt humiliation, Bayern needed a reply and – while it was not the most fluent performance – they were good value for a fourth win in as many Group B games. It was a decent show of resilience, but the club will be keen to have a new permanent boss at the helm soon.
You were Sa unlucky to be on the losing side, Jose
Olympiacos offered little going forward and were content to try and contain Bayern’s heavyweight attack. But had it not been for Sa the scoreline would have been much more comfortable, with the away goalkeeper unlucky to finally be beaten by Lewandowski, who has scored 31 group-stage goals since joining Bayern in 2014 – no player has more in the same time (Lionel Messi also has 31).
Negative Martins pays the price
With Bayern still reeling from their Frankfurt horror show and Olympiacos on just one point with nothing to lose, it was a bit of a surprise to see visiting boss Pedro Martins go with three defensive-minded midfielders. It led to a drab showing from the away side, who perhaps missed a chance to have a real go at the wounded hosts.
Key Opta facts
– Perisic’s goal 33 seconds after entering the pitch is the quickest Champions League goal by a substitute since April 2017, when Valere Germain netted for Monaco against Borussia Dortmund after 23 seconds.
– Manuel Neuer made his 104th Champions League appearance during this win, surpassing Oliver Kahn (103) to take the record for the most appearances by a German goalkeeper in the competition.
– Lewandowski became the third player to score in eight consecutive Champions League group stage appearances, after Cristiano Ronaldo (nine, 2012 to 2014) and Lionel Messi (eight, 2015 to 2017).
– Bayern’s four wins from four games against Olympiacos in the Champions League is their joint-best 100 per cent winning record against a single side, also triumphing in each of their four matches in the competition against CSKA Moscow and Besiktas.
– Olympiacos have now lost each of their past six away Champions League matches, their longest such run in the competition since a run of eight defeats between 2001 and 2003.
Bayern now switch focus to a crucial Klassiker as Dortmund travel to Munich on Saturday, while their next Champions League assignment is at Red Star Belgrade on November 26. Olympiacos welcome Atromitos on Sunday.