UEFA : Bayern Munich beat Benfica after Arturo Vidal’s second-minute winner
Arturo Vidal’s early header was enough for Bayern Munich to beat Benfica 1-0 at home and take a slender advantage from the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
The Chile midfielder scored in the second minute, heading home from close range after being picked out by Juan Bernat.
Vidal had most of the chances for the rest of the game, with Benfica’s defenders doing well to stifle Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller, Bayern’s top-scoring forwards. Lewandowski missed the best opportunity to wrap it up in the 89th minute, with an open goal beckoning.
“We had enough goal chances. We’ll go to Lisbon with the intention of winning the game, of scoring a goal or two,” Pep Guardiola said after his 150th competitive game in charge of the Bundesliga club.
Benfica’s reserve goalkeeper Ederson made a number of important blocks with the captain, Nicolás Gaitán, and Pizzi posing the visitors’ greatest threat.
“Sometimes a 1-0 win has to be enough,” the Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said. “We’re going to Lisbon and know that it’s a close call.”
Bayern are bidding to reach their fifth consecutive semi-final while Benfica, the Portuguese league leaders, are hoping to reach their first since 1990.
Vidal scored with Bayern’s first foray forward. Franck Ribéry crossed for Lewandowski, who played the ball back out to Bernat in more space on the left. The Spanish full-back picked out Vidal in the middle with a precise cross.
“It’s not nice, it wasn’t our plan,” the Benfica coach, Rui Vitoria, said on conceding so early. “But we came with a plan and the players kept it tight. It could have knocked us off our stride but we reacted very well.”
Bayern kept attacking, with Douglas Costa testing Ederson from the right. Ederson was playing in place of the first-choice goalkeeper Júlio César, who was out with a groin injury.
Bayern was dominating possession with Benfica living on scraps. Pizzi and Gaitan combined for a well-worked free-kick before the ball was deflected out for a corner.
On another free-kick at the other end, Thiago Alcântara dinked a clever ball over for Müller, but Ederson got down quickly to smother the danger.
Vidal went close with another header before Benfica finished the half strongly with Vidal making an important block to deny a fierce strike from Gaitán.
Victor Lindelof made a crucial interception on Lewandowski at the start of the second half, before Benfica resumed getting back in numbers and closing down space.
Jonas shot a good opportunity too close to the underworked Bayern goalkeeper before Bernat drew his shot wide at the other end. Lahm, Javi Martínez and Alcântara then scrambled back to deny Jonas an equaliser.
Jonas had earlier picked up a yellow card, ruling him out of the second leg next week through suspension.
Lewandowski could have given Bayern more breathing space but appeared caught in two minds about whether to shoot or pass in what was Bayern’s best chance late on.
Despite the missed opportunity, Bayern have prevailed on each of the three occasions the sides have met in European competition. “It’s not bad for us,” the Bayern defender David Alaba said.