Both goals hailed from a familiar source as Bayern sealed three points at home against rank outsiders AEK Athens. The victory never looked in real doubt, but the performance left much to be desired.
Bayern Munich 2-0 AEK Athens
(Lewandowski pen 31', 71')
Whatever else might be going wrong at Bayern Munich at the moment, Robert Lewandowski's nose for goal remains sharper than a Bavarian Mountain Hound's sense of smell. The Pole left AEK's goalie Vasilios Barkas no chance from the penalty spot after half an hour, and was the quickest to respond when Joshua Kimmich's corner was flicked on towards the back post.
The performance was not the runaway thrashing many might have expected, especially as an off-form Bayern seek to send a message ahead of Saturday's crucial Bundesliga game against Borussia Dortmund. Nevertheless, Bayern did enough to secure three points and never looked in any real danger in defense on the night. They allowed only two shots, neither of them on target. Some of the errors in possession in the middle of the park, though, are liable to be punished more efficiently if they resurface this weekend against BVB.
Besides Lewandowski, midfielder Leon Goretzka probably came closest to adding a goal, going close with a first-half header and a second-half volley. Joshua Kimmich was as busy as usual at right back, crossing with the relentless precision that's expected of the 23-year-old nowadays. Franck Ribery was full of fire, too, while Thomas Müller was involved in almost everything in the first half, but unable to provide a meaningful final touch.
The game all-but guarantees Bayern a spot in the last 16, although mathematical certainty will not come for at least one more match. We'll have to wait four days to see if it was enough of a confidence boost for Kovac's crew ahead of their weekend trip to Dortmund.
As it happened...
90+4' One last chance, a free kick from some distance. Alaba and Kimmich squabbling over the ball. Alaba fires wide of the post, with the last kick of the game.
90+1' Finally a pause in play, allowing Lewandowski to get a standing ovation for his brace. Wagner comes on — for what's left of the three added minutes, anyway.
89' Renato Sanches has also joined the fray for some junk minutes late on, looks like Sandro Wagner's next in line.
84' Sub: Ribery makes way for Rafinha, after an impressive performance when measured against Bayern's fairly drab baseline.
78' Slapstick stuff in the box there. Kimmich's corner fumbled by keeper Barkas, then the ball loops up into the air and drops back down onto the crossbar. Nearly one of the most unusual own goals imaginable.
76' The game's opening up now. Much more space for Bayern as AEK have no choice but to try to push forward. Lewandowski wins a corner after finding lots of room down the left. Following the set piece, which was half-cleared, both Müller and Kimmich had shots at goal, culminating in another Bayern corner.
71' GOAL Bayern, 2-0. Lewandowski clears up at the back post from a flicked-on corner. Quite a display of agility from the Pole to reach that and keep it down with one of his lanky limbs.
60' Lewandowski denied one-on-one after a defense-splitting through ball from Javi Martinez. Barkas got a glove to the left-footed shot.
57' Serge Gnabry fires over the crossbar from distance. Bayern creating a little more of late.
55' So close Leon Goretzka, arriving in the box for his second shot on goal of the night. Sharp save to deny the former Schalke midfielder.
55' Highlight of the second period so far is a "what might have been" moment when Joshua Kimmich whipped in a beautiful left-footed cross; fortunately for AEK, a defender got there first.
Second half begins.
HT analysis: Not the sort of showing to set Bavarian pulses racing thus far. The score, at least, will please Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeness, both on hand in the stadium ahead of Saturday's big test at Dortmund in the Bundesliga. The Bayern bosses looked more than a little relieved when Lewandowski's laser-guided penalty left Vasilios Barkas no chance in the AEK goal. Thomas Müller stood out in the opening period, both for being involved in most of the promising attacks, and for failing to provide the final touches.
45' Granted, AEK's lack of attacking impetus plays no small part in this, but it's still interesting that Bayern haven't made a successful tackle all half.
36' Thomas Müller's involved in almost everything for Bayern, but he can't buy an end product. In the space of 60 seconds, he had two poor crosses blocked from a dangerous spot out right, then had a shot charged down by the last man in the area. He's getting in the right places as usual, and then the trouble starts.
31' GOAL! 1-0 Bayern. Penalty Lewandowski. Stutter step. Top corner.
29' Huge chance goes begging as Müller fires wide at the back post from a corner. However, the whistle's gone for a foul on Lewandowski in the six-yard box before the ball reached Müller — it's a penalty! Referee's assistant called it, and alerted the main man.
22' Well, time's ticking by without too much by way of action in this one. Bayern have had the lion's share of the ball (though just 58-42 possession), yet have only managed to create a pair of shots in the first half of the first period.
7' Leon Goretzka forces Barkos into a sharp save, rising to head a cross from Joshua Kimmich.
5' First big chance of the game for the visitors. AEK connect from a corner and defender Lampropoulos heads off target. That would have put some fizz in proceedings the other side of the post.
— Hello and welcome to our live updates on Bayern Munich's Champions League group stage game at home to AEK Athens. The lineups are out with less than an hour to go until kickoff, so let's start right there:
Bayern find room in their XI for Jerome Boateng and Thomas Müller, with both the German mainstays facing fairly consistent criticism this season. Javi Martinez will hold station in front of the back four, while Müller, Leon Goretzka, Serge Gnabry and Franck Ribery look to create chances for lone striker Robert Lewandowski.
If things end up being comfortable for the heavy favorites and hosts, we could see a new face as a substitute later in the second half. Attacking midfielder and Munich-born Meritan Shabani, still just 19, is the unfamiliar name on the Bavarians' bench this evening.
AEK Athens can't boast such household names. Currently fifth in the league at home, they'll be lining up with five at the back. It could be a tough night for 24-year-old keeper Vasilios Barkos, who broke into the senior Greek team this year. Barkos has played all his professional football in Greece but was born in Zetten in the Netherlands, just a short drive from the German border. AEK have reportedly been resisting inquiries for the young keeper, arguing he's worth an eight-figure transfer fee. He could have a good chance to demonstrate this tonight.