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Georgia Stanway late show proves Bayern Munich's credentials

October 28, 2022

Bayern Munich produced a spectacular late comeback to beat Benfica. Not only did Georgia Stanway's first Bayern goals preserve the Bavarians' 100% record in Group D; they also showed the hallmarks of a winning mentality.

Georgia Stanway of FC Bayern Munchen in action during the UEFA Women's Champions League Group D match between SL Benfica and FC Bayern Munchen at Benfica Campus on October 27, 2022 in Seixal, Portugal.
Leading the way: Georgia Stanway has made her mark at Bayern with her mentality, and now also her goalsImage: Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

Georgia Stanway's first few weeks at Bayern Munich have been characterized more by yellow cards than goals, but the dynamism, determination and tenacity which helped lead England to their maiden European Cup title in July shone through in the form of two vital strikes in Lisbon on Thursday night - her first for her new club.

With just seven minutes of normal time remaining, she drove inside from the right to draw Bayern level with a left-footed drive. Fifteen minutes later, in the last of eight minutes of stoppage time, she repeated the trick on her right foot to cap a dramatic comeback and secure all three points.

"We made it difficult for ourselves today," she said. "Of course, it was not our plan to be 0-2 down again [after Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga at the weekend]. But we stood together, fought back and rewarded ourselves with three points, and that's what counts."

Stanway's late show came either side of a missed Benfica penalty, well saved by goalkeeper Maria Luisa Grohs in the 89th minute, and preserved Bayern's perfect start in Champions League Group D.

The Bavarians' manager Alexander Straus' face portrayed a mixture of joy and relief as Thursday night's result proved to be as much about taking home three points as it was showcasing the temperament of his team.

"I am very happy," he said. "This was an important victory for us, but we have to stop designing the games like this. We must decide the game in the first half, but we went into the break with 0-1 down.

"The substitutes then gave us momentum again and Stanway then won the game for us. Seen over the 90 minutes, we were the better team."

Stanway bringing new energy to Bayern

Bayern's second Champions League outing posed a different challenge to the one they had come up against at the weekend against Wolfsburg, but threatened for much of the game to end in a similarly disappointing fashion.

Whilst the two Bundesliga sides had battled against each other in front of a record home crowd of over 21,000, the German side travelled to Portugal to face off against Benfica in a ground with a capacity of just over 2,700. Despite the vastly differing surroundings, Bayern found themselves in familiar territory, falling 2-0 behind early in the second half in consecutive games.

Although the visitors created numerous chances in Lisbon, the enforced withdrawal of captain and key playmaker Lina Magull through injury just before the hour mark, coupled with Benfica doubling their first-half lead just a minute later, looked to be sending Bayern to a second defeat in four days - until Stanway took control.

The former Manchester City midfielder won every domestic trophy in England and the hallmarks of her game have grown game by game with Bayern: notably the hard tackling and pacey runs at the heart of the defence which she displayed against Benfica.

Both of Stanway's goals came from picking up the ball 25 yards out and running at speed towards the goal before striking ferociously from just outside the box, demonstrating a penetration and purpose which Bayern had otherwise been lacking.

"I am very happy about our mentality and the three points," said Stanway's midfield partner Sarah Zadrazil. "We knew Benfica were a good team and they gave us a hard fight. Today we didn't show our best football, but we won and that's what matters."

Georgia Stanway of FC Bayern Munchen celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Women's Champions League Group D match between SL Benfica and FC Bayern Munchen at Benfica Campus on October 27, 2022 in Seixal, Portugal.
Team mentality: Georgia Stanway is mobbed by her Bayern Munich teammatesImage: Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

Mentality shows Bayern can take next step

Bayern's challenge of bettering themselves both in the Bundesliga and Champions League this year looked in danger unravelling just six weeks into their season.

Sunday's defeat to Wolfsburg left Bayern five points behind the current league holders and though the Bavarians showed a late fight in that match too, the loss raised questions as to whether they can launch a serious title challenge.

After reaching the Champions League semi-finals last season, natural progression this season would be for Bayern to reach their maiden final in the competition.

Having been drawn in a group with Spanish giants Barcelona, who had thrashed Benfica 9-0 in the opening matchday, a loss to the Portuguese side on Thursday could have torpedoed their season in Europe too soon after their league credentials took a hit.

But forward Emelyne Laurent praised her team's fortitude to fight back and reinject the side with the confidence needed to challenge on multiple fronts all season long.

"We were too passive in the first half and made the opponent look strong," Laurent admitted. "In the second half it got better, we had nothing left to lose. Thanks to our mentality and trust in ourselves, we won as a team today."

Edited by Matt Ford