Sane scores 2 as Bayern beats Benfica without sick coach

AP , Wednesday 20 Oct 2021

Bayern Munich kept up its winning start to the Champions League as Leroy Sane scored twice in a 4-0 win over Benfica on Wednesday, but coach Julian Nagelsmann wasn't there to see it.

Leroy Sane
Bayern s Leroy Sane celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Champions League group E soccer match between Benfica and Bayern Munich at the Luz stadium in Lisbon (AP)

Bayern didn't open the scoring until the 70th minute after two disallowed goals, but once Sane had put Bayern in front, Benfica crumbled.

The win puts Bayern five points clear of Benfica at the top of Group E with 12 goals scored and none conceded, and helps third-place Barcelona, now just one point off a qualifying spot following its 1-0 victory over Dynamo Kyiv earlier Wednesday.

Just over an hour before kickoff, Bayern said Nagelsmann had ``a flu-like infection,`` leaving assistants Dino Toppmoller and Xaver Zembrod to oversee the game. Nagelsmann's absence didn't seem to affect Bayern's creativity but there wasn't the usual precise finishing, as shots went wide or were saved by goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos.

Bayern's players twice celebrated taking the lead, only for video reviews to disallow both goals. The first was a Robert Lewandowski effort which on replay went in off his upper arm, the second a well-worked move finished by Thomas Muller but only after an offside in the buildup.

Just when the Bayern players started to think it wasn't their night, Sane stepped up to take a direct free kick outside the penalty area and blazed the ball over the wall and into the net with such power than Vlachodimos couldn't get there in time to stop it.

Bayern went 2-0 up in the 80th with an own goal for Benfica as Serge Gnabry's cross bounced off winger Everton's head and in. Two minutes later, it was 3-0 when Sane turned defender Nicolas Otamendi and laid the ball off for Lewandowski to score. Sane added the fourth in the 85th off an assist from substitute Josip Stanisic.

Benfica had chances to earn a first-ever win over Bayern and extend its nine-game unbeaten run at home in European games. Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer twice produced fine reaction saves to deny Darwin Nunez and Diogo Goncalves.

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