Le­wandowski seals Bay­ern win over Atletico

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

A Robert Le­wandowski free-kick sealed Bay­ern Mu­nich’s 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid yes­ter­day in the Cham­pi­ons League with both teams al­ready through to the knock-out stage.

De­spite the re­sult at Mu­nich’s bit­terly cold Al­lianz Arena, Atletico go into the draw for the last 16 as Group D win­ners with Bay­ern sec­ond.

Hav­ing been knocked out in the semi-fi­nals by Atletico last sea­son, Bay­ern avenged their 1-0 de­feat in Madrid in Septem­ber and ex­tended their record streak in Cham­pi­ons League to 15 wins at home.

But Le­wandowski’s su­perb first-half strike was the dif­fer­ence. “He’s been hit­ting those in train­ing all sea­son,” said Bay­ern’s Ger­many de­fender Mats Hum­mels.

“We al­lowed them a cou­ple of big chances early on and then noth­ing af­ter that. “We did a good job and the most im­por­tant thing is that he has things in hand de­fen­sively.”

Atletico, who were close to full strength, suf­fered their first de­feat in the group stages this sea­son hav­ing been the only team to win all of their pre­vi­ous five.

It de­nied them a club record of a per­fect six. Bay­ern coach Carlo Ancelotti switched from the 4-2-3-1 for­ma­tion, which won 3-1 at Mainz in the Bun­desliga, with a 4-3-3 for­ma­tion, sur­pris­ingly leav­ing Thomas Mueller on the bench.

Le­wandowski played ei­ther side of Ar­jen Robben and Dou­glas Costa on the wings with Thi­ago Al­can­tara, Ar­turo Vidal and teenage Por­tu­gal in­ter­na­tional Re­nato Sanches in mid­field.

Diego Sime­one’s Atletico made a bright start with Yan­nick Car­rasco, who scored when the hosts won 1-0 in Madrid in Septem­ber, twice forc­ing Bay­ern goal­keeper Manuel Neuer into ac­tion.

Bay­ern took the lead when Poland’s Le­wandowski ma­jes­ti­cally floated his free-kick over the wall from the edge of the box and into the top corner on 28 min­utes.

It was from al­most ex­actly the same po­si­tion Le­wandowski scored from in Fri­day’s 3-1 win at Mainz, but Madrid goal­keeper Jan Oblak was pow­er­less to stop it. It was Le­wandowski’s 24th goal in 24 ap­pear­ances for club and coun­try this sea­son.

In cel­e­bra­tion, the 28-year-old shoved the match­ball un­der his play­ing shirt and stuck his thumb in his mouth amidst ru­mours in the Pol­ish me­dia that his wife Anna is preg­nant.

Atletico’s de­fence closed down the Bay­ern at­tack af­ter the break with Sanches twice un­able to get a clean shot away from good po­si­tions due to Madrid shirts block­ing him. The hosts starved Atletico of the ball with Bay­ern en­joy­ing just un­der 75 per­cent pos­ses­sion.

Thi­ago squan­dered a golden chance to add a sec­ond on 78 min­utes.

Costa whipped in a pin-point cross, but the Spain in­ter­na­tional’s half vol­ley from five me­tres out flew over the bar with the goal at his mercy. — AFP

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