Bayern beats Benfica 1-0 in Champions League quarterfinal
ABS-CBN Sports on Apr 06, 2016 10:07 AM
Benfica's Jardel, right, competes for the ball with Bayern's Javi Martinez, second right, during the Champions League quarterfinal first leg soccer match between FC Bayern Munich and Benfica Lisbon at the Allianz Arena in Munich, southern Germany, Tuesday, April 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)
CIARAN FAHEY, Associated Press
MUNICH (AP) — Arturo Vidal's early header was enough for Bayern Munich to beat Benfica 1-0 at home on Tuesday and take a slender advantage from the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal.
The Chilean midfielder struck in the second minute, heading home from five meters (yards) after being picked out by Juan Bernat.
Vidal had most of the chances for the rest of the game, with Benfica's defenders doing well to stifle Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Mueller, the home side's top-scoring forwards.
Lewandowski missed the best opportunity to wrap it up in the 89th, when he sent a wayward pass for Philipp Lahm with an open goal beckoning.
"We had enough goal chances. We'll go to Lisbon with the intention of winning the game, of scoring a goal or two," Bayern coach Pep Guardiola said after his 150th competitive game in charge of the Bundesliga club.
Benfica reserve 'keeper Ederson had to make a number of important blocks, with captain Nicolas Gaitan and Pizzi posing the visitors' greatest threat at the other end.
"Sometimes a 1-0 win has to be enough," Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said. "We're going to Lisbon and know that it's a close call."
Bayern is bidding to reach its fifth consecutive semifinal, while the Portuguese league leader is hoping to reach its first since 1990.
In the night's other quarterfinal, Luis Suarez scored twice to lead Barcelona to a 2-1 comeback victory over 10-man Atletico Madrid.
Vidal scored with Bayern's first foray forward. Franck Ribery crossed for Lewandowski, who played the ball back out to Bernat in more space on the left. The Spanish full-back picked out Vidal in the middle with a precise cross.
"Of course it's not nice, it wasn't our plan," Benfica coach Rui Vitoria said on conceding so early. "But we came with a plan and the players kept it tight. Of course, it could have knocked us off our stride. But we reacted very well."
Bayern kept attacking, with Douglas Costa testing Ederson from the right. Ederson was playing in place of first-choice goalkeeper Julio Cesar, who was out with a groin injury.
Bayern was dominating possession with Benfica living on scraps. Pizzi and Gaitan combined for a well-worked free kick before the ball was deflected out for a corner.
On another free kick at the other end, Thiago Alcantara dinked a clever ball over for Mueller, but Ederson got down quickly to smother the danger.
Vidal went close with another header before Benfica finished the half strongly with Vidal making a painful-looking but important block to deny a fierce strike from Gaitan.
Victor Lindelof made a crucial interception on Lewandowski at the start of the second half, before the visitors resumed getting back in numbers and closing down space.
Benfica striker Jonas shot a good opportunity too close to the underworked Bayern goalkeeper before Bernat drew his shot wide at the other end.
Lahm, Javi Martinez and Alcantara then scrambled back to deny Jonas an equalizer.
Jonas had earlier picked up a yellow card, ruling him out of next week's second leg through suspension.
Lewandowski could have given Bayern more breathing space, but appeared caught in two minds about whether to shoot or pass in what was Bayern's best chance late on.
Despite the missed opportunity, Bayern has prevailed on each of the three occasions the sides have met in European competition.
"It's not bad for us," Bayern defender David Alaba said.