UCL: Bayern Advances After Lewandowski Hat-Trick
Poland international and Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski scored a hat-trick on his 100th UEFA Champions League (UCL) appearance as they thrashed Benfica 5-2 to advance into the knockout stage with two Group E matches to spare.
Bayern started with a lethal front-four of Lewandowski, Serge Gnabry, Kingsley Coman and Leroy Sane in attack. The visitors main man Darwin Nunez started on the bench with Roman Yaremchuk taking his place in the starting line-up.
Lewandowski headed in his first goal in the 26th minute after Kingsley Coman danced through the Benfica penalty area past two defenders, before crossing for the Poland striker.
Lewandowski was the provider six minutes later, squaring the ball for Gnabry to finish in style as his lovely backheel left goalkeeper Odisseas Vlachodimos frozen. Benfica cut the deficit before the break with Morato’s 38th minute header, the first goal conceded by Bayern in their four Champions League matches
The Poland striker then missed a penalty in first half stoppage time after VAR spotted a handball in the Benfica box. The scores remained 2-1 to Bayern as the referee blew the halftime whistle.
Leroy Sane then extended Bayern’s lead early in the second half, killing off any hopes of a Benfica comeback. The in-form Lewandowski then chipped in another goal in the 61st minute to make the scores 4-1 to Bayern.
Bayern were caught sleeping when substitute Darwin Nunez pulled a goal back with 15 minutes left.
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But Lewandowski was not yet done, bagging his fourth Champions League hat-trick in the 85th to book Bayern’s spot in the last 16.
It was Lewandowski’s 81st goal in Europe’s elite club competition.
“I do not know if it was the perfect game because I did miss a penalty,” Lewandowski said. “But better to miss early than late in the game. Luckily we scored several more goals and got the three points.”
“I did not get the ball often in the first 20 minutes but you have to stay patient as a striker. To be honest I never thought I would ever play so many games in the Champions League and score so many goals,” Lewandowski added.
Bayern are top on 12 points following their fourth win in the group and record-equalling 17 goals, with Benfica on four points. Barcelona moved into second place on six points after winning 1-0 at Dynamo Kyiv.
UEFA Champions League results
Bayern Munich 5-2 Benfica
Dynamo Kyiv 0-1 Barcelona
Atalanta 2-2 Manchester United
Villarreal 2-0 Young boys
Wolfsburg 2-1 FC Salzburg
Sevilla 1-2 Lille
Malmo FF 0- Chelsea
Juventus 4-2 Zenith St. Petersburg