FC Bayern crowned themselves group winners at the Camp Nou and finally spoiled Robert Lewandowski’s farewell to the Champions League. The world footballer from FC Barcelona had to watch on Wednesday as his Munich successor Sadio Mané (10th minute), Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (31st) and Benjamin Pavard (90th 5) made it 3-0 (2-0) instead of him even celebrated goals.
The long-time Bayern striker, shaking his head in front of around 90,000 spectators, was annoyed that, according to the video images, a penalty kick that was initially awarded was still denied (45.1). A fine flick from Serge Gnabry was also not given due to an offside position (54th). He also prepared Bayern’s third goal in injury time. So it was enough for the early group victory of the clarified guests.
The mood of Lewandowski and the Catalan star ensemble was already in the basement before the kick-off, because Inter Milan’s 4-0 win against Viktoria Pilsen sealed the end of the fight for the round of 16. Before the last day of the preliminary round in a week, when FC Bayern host Inter, all the placements are already certain. As group winners, Munich have home rights in the second leg of the round of 16 in February and March next year. The draw will take place on November 7th, where Bayern will not be given another first-place winner.
Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann wanted to “set an example” with a strong performance in Spain – and that’s exactly what his stars did. In the course of the first half, Barça often controlled the ball, but even Lewandowski did not become dangerous against his ex-colleagues who defended in a disciplined manner. Instead, the Munich team took advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves.
Twice it was the strong Gnabry who initiated Bayern’s first goals. First, the national player played a sensational diagonal pass to Mané, who pushed in freely in front of Marc-André ter Stegen to take the lead. Around 20 minutes later, after a perfect counterattack, Gnabry put it across to Choupo-Moting, who shot ter Stegen dry through the legs. Lewandowski hardly took place on the other side, the Pole was repeatedly slowed down by the strong Matthijs de Ligt.
Shortly before the break, however, the Dutchman seemed to be late. After a duel with Lewandowski, referee Anthony Taylor awarded a penalty. But when he watched the scene again on the video screen, the Englishman took the penalty back: de Ligt had touched the ball very lightly in front of Lewandowski.
Most viewers didn’t think anything of this decision at all. After there had already been whistles during the premier class anthem before the game, the referee was dismissed with a concert of whistles during the break. It wasn’t just an intense game for Taylor because of that. Because of their consistent defensive work, the Munich team had already received three yellow cards after 35 minutes. But it paid off as Barcelona could hardly create any chances.
Dayot Upamecano and de Ligt worked so well in the center of defense that Lewandowski and the entire Barça offensive could not develop. Bayern’s defense was the key to victory. And Gnabry had already made it 3-0 up front after a fine Kimmich pass – but the goal was withdrawn due to an offside position (55th). Barcelona, on the other hand, didn’t create a clear chance.
FC Bayern have now won their preliminary group in this competition for the fifth time in a row and for the 17th time overall. Only opponents Barcelona managed to do this more often (18 times).
Europa League winner Eintracht Frankfurt has averted the premature end of the Champions League and can even dream of winning the group after a feat of strength. The Hessians defeated the French football club Olympique Marseille 2-1 (2-1) on Wednesday evening and have progress in the group finals next week in their own hands. Daichi Kamada (3rd minute) and striker Randal Kolo Muani (27th) scored in front of 48,700 spectators – including national coach Hansi Flick – for the Hessians, who are currently in excellent shape.
Even the interim equalizer by Matteo Guendouzi (22nd) did not stop the team of head coach Oliver Glasner. Because Tottenham drew 1-1 against Sporting Lisbon at the same time, anything from first to fourth place is possible next Tuesday (9 p.m.). If Eintracht wins in Portugal, they will remain in the premier class. In the event of a defeat, there is still a risk of fourth place and thus the complete end of Europe. So there could be complicated arithmetic games in group D. Against Marseille, the SGE managed to score the maximum of six points in two games.
The Frankfurters started at full steam and had a dream and lightning start. After just 180 seconds, the fourth-placed Bundesliga player quickly took the lead. A cross pass from Evan Ndicka landed at Kamada, who shot in low from 14 meters. With committed pre-pressing, the hosts initially kept the French away from their own penalty area. In the 11th minute, carelessness in Eintracht’s defense by debutant Hrvoje Smolcic in the center was almost punished: Jonathan Clauss shot well wide of the left post from the edge of the penalty area from a completely free stand.
After the moment of shock, it was Mario Götze (15′) who almost made it 2-0 after a cross from Jesper Lindström, but his header just missed the right post. National coach Flick should not only have liked this action in the 50th Champions League game of the 30-year-old world champion from 2014. Just four minutes later, Christopher Lenz had the second big chance, but his shot from close range was blocked by Olympique goalkeeper Pau López with a foot reflex.
Out of nowhere came Guendouzi’s 1-1 equalizer in the 22nd minute, who shot the ball into the goal after a precise cross in the six-yard box. Unfazed by this, the hosts continued to steer their offensive course and took the lead again through Kolo Muani after a clever one-two with Götze. It would not have been amiss for the French to equalize just before half-time, but national goalkeeper Kevin Trapp saved the ball with a diving dive.
In a hectic and hard-fought second half, Marseille almost equalized in the 57th minute. Alexis Sanchez got the ball after a pass from Leonardo Balerdi, but his chip over Trapp went just wide of the left crossbar. After that, the deserved success was no longer in danger.
After the terrible riots on September 13 in Marseille, when fans of both clubs fired flares at each other during the game and a Eintracht fan was seriously injured, there were no incidents at Deutsche Bank Park. Just before kick-off, pyrotechnics were ignited in both fan blocks. Around 2,000 guest fans had traveled from Marseille.
The Bayer fans who had traveled with them celebrated their penalty hero Lukas Hradecky exuberantly. Thanks to the parade of the 32-year-old in an insane video evidence penalty after the supposed final whistle, Bayer Leverkusen had at least a small chance of participating in the intermediate round of the Europa League after being eliminated from the Champions League. Coach Xabi Alonso’s team drew 2-2 (2-1) at Atlético Madrid on Wednesday evening – and now they have to hope for a mistake by the Spaniards in the final group game in order to at least reach third place.
Moussa Diaby made it 1-0 for Bayer 04 in the 9th minute of a fast-paced encounter, Callum Hudson-Odoi (29′) scored the second goal for Leverkusen. However, Yannick Carrasco (22nd) and Rodrigo De Paul (50th) equalized twice for Atlético. The Champions League round of 16 was no longer within reach for Leverkusen even before kick-off because FC Porto had won 4-0 at FC Bruges in the early game of the group. Atlético missed the knockout round of the premier class with the draw.
How to go into a game when the big goal can no longer be reached? Bayer initially answered this question with an early goal. Diaby scored after Robert Andrich had won an important tackle against Antoine Griezmann near the Atlético penalty area. Xabi Alonso clenched both hands into fists in his coaching zone.
Ángel Correa tested Bayer goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky (13′) shortly afterwards and it was clear that Leverkusen had a lot of work to do. The team of coach Diego Simeone, who is revered at Atlético, continued to lose the ball and weakened on the defensive. The quick combination in the Bayer penalty area was enough for Carrasco to equalize 1-1 in the meantime.
It spoke for Xabi Alonso’s team that they were not discouraged again. A long-range shot by Nadiem Amiri shortly after the equalizer went just wide of the target (23′). Then Hudson-Odoi, who formed the offensive together with Diaby and Adam Hlozek, scored after work from Amiri. Another shot by Hudson-Odoi before the break was no problem for Atlético goalkeeper Jan Oblak (39′), Diaby’s attempt against a partially diffuse Madrid defense went over the goal (44′).
Simeone was not at all happy, in the second half the 52-year-old eliminated Correa and Mario Hermoso, but the one-time prodigy João Félix remained on the bench until the end. De Paul, who came on for Correa, thanked him for the trust after a few minutes and brought Atlético back into the game with his goal. Again the Bayer defense seemed too sluggish.
The game remained open – and entertaining for the fans. Both teams repeatedly made mistakes in the build-up of the game, which led to counterattacks. Hradecky was on hand against Antoine Griezmann (58′) and Carrasco (59′). Xabi Alonso then made a double change, goalscorer Hudson-Odoi came on for Amine Adli and Edmond Tapsoba for Jonathan Tah. With the Champions League in sight, the hosts were much closer to scoring the third goal in a row. But Bayer also had chances like Paulinho, who failed at Oblak (82nd).