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Lazio 1-4 Bayern Munich: Robert Lewandowski leads Bayern to comfortable victory

Published on: 23 February 2021

It was no surprise the German giants came to strut around the Stadio Olympico as if they owned the place.

Who can blame them? An aggressive attack-enforced mentality woven with the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Leroy Sane in attack was always going to be a tricky equation.

The Italians learnt the hard way here. Bayern Munich at their attacking best and Lazio close to their defensive worse presented a destructive recipe.

Three of the goals were from defensive errors — a tame Mateo Musacchio back-pass presented Lewandowski his 72nd Champions League goal, now above Raul and third in the all-time goal rankings in the competition.

Then Sane capitalised off a Patric slump to the ground and Francesco Acerbi turned into his own net off a Sane cross within three minutes from either side of the interval.

Joaquin Correa pulled one back on 47 minutes to begin a spirited team venture down field but the mountain had already peaked.

Though sandwiched between Bayern’s rout was a impetuous guided finish into the corner by 17-year-old Jamal Musiala.

It’s a name we will be hearing more in the coming years. A decimated substitute bench due to Covid and injuries left Hansi Flick giving the teenager a twirl in midfield in a knockout fixture.

A young head on old shoulders optimised his composure on the ball and his spatial awareness to get into open space and anticipate the next pass.

Musiala qualifies for England but it looks as if the youngster will opt to play for Germany instead. Gareth Southgate will now surely be scurrying to somehow rope him into the next squad, despite the midfield options at his disposal. Special players deserve special decisions.

Bayern’s absentee crisis was reflected with just five substitutes of an allocated 12 on the bench. Benjamin Pavard and Thomas Muller were out due to Covid, while Corentin Tolisso, Serge Gnabry and Douglas Costa made up part of the lengthy injury list.

Though the Germans started in a confident fashion and took the lead with just nine minutes on the clock.

Musacchio pondered far too long on the ball, and then unleashed an awful back-pass for Lewandowski to capitalise on.

He cut the ball from right foot to left as goalkeeper Pepe Reina came sprawling out to guide into an empty net.

At this point Lazio were neither surprised nor gutted. A man with 31 goals in 30 games this season swallows gifts, and a goal was already nearby at that point.

Joshua Kimmich and Niklas Sule both had threatening crosses closely squandered minutes earlier in a spate of attacks forward.

10 minutes after the goal, the Italian side’s spirit has started to grow. A scoring joust with Bayern is often expected. A goal down is no tragedy.

But that unravelled quickly, as Sergej Milinkovic-Savic neatly chested the ball down on the edge of the area and glided in on goal past two defenders.

Well, until he was upended on the edge of the area by Jerome Boateng. Luckily for the Germans, VAR spotted the midfielder offside in the build-up.

The away side don’t take kindly to threats and went up the other end to double their lead.

Leon Goretzka neatly passed to Musiala in space just outside the area, and he darted a right-footed strike snug into the bottom left corner.

A third followed three minutes before the interval after another Lazio defensive mishap — Patric falling under pressure this time — allowed Kingsley Coman to bomb forward and shoot, with his rebound finished by Sane.

The Italians were already facing an insurmountable mountain before the second half started, but Bayern were still keen to leave foot on throat after the restart.

A corner for Lazio invariably meant nine men forward in search for a breakthrough. It was positive but a little too ambitious against this juggernaut as Sane broke with terrific speed down the left-hand wing, jinking in and out against a desperate Lulic.

His cross was turned into the net by the opposing Acerbi into his own goal under pressure from Alphonso Davies.

The four-goal tide would lead some sides to surrender, but to the home side’s credit, a burden fell. Embarrassment was already on the card — what more is there to lose?

A free-flowing displayed followed; how they will wish they approached the fixture in this vein originally.

Correa, a shining light in their attacking ranks, prodded and probed and crucially, awarded a goal on 49 minutes after dribbling past both Sule and David Alaba to beat Manuel Neuer one-on-one.

By the point, Bayern had relaxed off the pedal in hope of walking into a sedate second leg with no new injury concerns.

Jaunts by the lively Correa and Milinkovic-Savic raised scant hopes, but the Italians left knowing that bar a miracle the German giants have a quarter-final spot to look forward to.


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