A second-minute goal from Arturo Vidal was enough to give Bayern Munich a slender win over Benfica. Yet Pep Guardiola's side will have to improve if they hope to match the Lisbon side next week.
Bayern Munich 1-0 Benfica
(Arturo Vidal 2')
Bayern Munich take a slim 1-0 lead to their quarterfinal second leg in Lisbon next week after a pedestrian Champions League victory over Benfica at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday night. On an evening that started with much promise, Pep Guardiola's side were forced to accept a muted victory despite what once was a fierce home advantage.
Before Benfica had even composed themselves in the Munich cauldron they were already fishing the ball out of their own net, when a Juan Bernat cross in the second minute of the game found Arturo Vidal lingering in the six-yard box. With the slightest of touches off his head the midfielder tapped the ball past Benfica goalkeeper, Ederson, and kicked off Bayern's evening in style.
With a goal to the good the home side set about applying their signature high-pressure game by keeping Benfica at bay, deep within their own half, as Franck Ribery, Douglas Costa and Thiago Alcantara took turns running at the Portuguese defense.
Yet Bayern's runs and darting crosses rarely translated in to clear-cut chances. It was Costa's blocked shot in the 10th minute, Thomas Müller's volley in the 21st minute and another header from Vidal 15 minutes after that which populated an otherwise dull opening 45 minutes of football. Despite the perfect start, Bayern had slowed the game down and allowed their once-pensive visitors to regain their composure.
Indeed it was the visitors who had the last chance of the half when just before the break a rare Benfica attack offered a chance to the travelling side. From a deflected cross, the ball landed at Nicolas Gaitan's feet on the edge of the box. The midfielder wasted little time with a first-time volley that looked goal bound but, fortunately for Guardiola's side, Vidal was in place to block the shot with a sliding tackle.
The visitors continued their unexpected assault on the status quo in the second-half, when regular talisman Jonas turned make-shift central defender David Alaba just eight minutes after the break to force a smart one-on-one save from Manuel Neuer. Six minutes later the towering Brazilian pulled off another shot inside the Bayern box but saw his effort once again blocked from crossing the line.
In a similar fashion to the narrow win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, and FC Cologne the week before, Bayern looked like a side with little incentive to increase their lead. Either through a lack of sheer will or a simple drop in form the German champions were on course for their third consecutive 1-0 win in all competitions and another below-par performance.
Ten minutes from time a fortunate bounce of the ball allowed Ribery to dance beyond two Benfica defenders and fire a low shot at Ederson in a rare second-half moment of attacking intent from the home side. Before the final whistle Robert Lewandowski passed up a final opportunity to score a one-on-one by passing a weighted ball sideways to Philipp Lahm to completely neutralize the chance. Like much of Bayern's evening, a once promising attack had faded to nothing.
In the end Bayern embraced the final whistle with a heavy sigh and heads hung low as they took their lap of the pitch and thanked an Allianz Arena that were forced to sit through 90 minutes of uneventful football. Bayern take a 1-0 lead to Lisbon but have much to work on ahead of the tricky away tie following another disappointing performance.