Bayern Munich kicked off their European campaign with a comfortable 2-0 win over Portuguese giants S.L. Benfica in their opening Champions League match this season.
The Bavarians wasted no time in stamping their authority on the game, and former Benfica star Renato Sanches played a huge part in setting up the first goal inside the opening 10 minutes.
A marauding run from the midfielder freed up space down the left wing and when the ball was fired back across goal, Robert Lewandowski kept which cool inside the area before firing past Champions League debutant Odisseas Vlachodimos.
Despite not being able to keep the visitors at bay during the opening stages of the match, Benfica started to sure things up (or in some cases ride their luck) and were able to go into the break with just one goal separating the two sides.
However, Bayern Munich only took 10 minutes to find the back of the net after the restart. Sanches once again started the counter-attack with a powerful run, but while Lewandowski was the beneficiary in the first half, the Portugal international was on hand to score on his first return to the Estádio da Luz.
Serge Gnabry was denied his first goal for the club by the offside flag late in the first half, and although the German outfit weren't able to kill off the match, Bayern Munich kept their composure and were able to see out a professional performance with the boost of a clean sheet.
Key Talking Point
Bayern Munich have an unchanged back four from last season, but the return of Manuel Neuer has completely transformed how opponents attack the Bavarian side - despite the fact he had a handful of nervous moments on Wednesday.
With Sven Ulreich in between the sticks, a one or two goal lead never felt like enough for former manager Jupp Heynckes last season, and teams often came up against Bayern Munich knowing that they could find the back of the net with relative ease.
But having conceded just two goals this season - one from the penalty spot and the other from open play - the reigning Bundesliga champions appear to be back to their resilient best, and will undoubtedly be a much stronger force in the Champions League during the 2018/19 campaign.
Neuer (7) Kimmich (6) Boateng (8) Hummels (8) Alaba (7) Martinez (6) Sanches (9*) Robben (7) James (6) Ribéry (7) Lewandowski (9).
Substitutes: Gnabry (7) Goretzka (6) Müller (N/A)
Renato Sanches' decision to run around like a child who has just had a major sugar fix at the infamous Estádio da Luz didn't go down well with all of Bayern Munich's fanbase, but the Portugal international was the driving force in their midfield on Wednesday.
Just months after being relegated during a loan spell with Swansea City, and 410 days on from his last appearances for Bayern Munich, Sanches took the bull by the horns during his return to Lisbon, repaying the faith shown by manager Niko Kovač, who had put his neck on the line by starting the young midfielder.
Renato Sanchez looks in scintillating form. Tremendous potential.— 🗣️ (@_tanmay_) September 19, 2018
Bayern starting Sanches over Goretzka confused me a bit considering Sanches didn’t have a great year at Swansea, but he used to play for Benfica so idk maybe it’s a sharp decision. Should be a good win for Bayern regardless— glass man (@megamandotexe) September 19, 2018
That goal from Renato Sanches was glorious. Did all the work initially before finishing well.— Ronan Murphy (@swearimnotpaul) September 19, 2018
I don't care bout that he was more good than bad most importantly he looks like a confident man!— Bayernized (@Ojas02422857) September 19, 2018
Having played a vital part in Bayern Munich's opening goal, the midfielder started and then finished a brilliant move to double their lead in Lisbon, scoring his first ever goal for the club back at his old stomping ground.
This one's a toss-up between Joshua Kimmich and Javi Martinez, but through no real fault of their own. The two defensive players had largely quiet games (that's usually a good thing) on Wednesday but neither went out of their way to make a mark.
In Kimmich's case specifically, Benfica's biggest attacking threat came down his side of the pitch, primarily through Argentine winger Franco Cervi. In all honesty, however, the versatile full back didn't really put a foot wrong in Portugal,
Vlachodimos (7) Almeida (6) Dias (7) Jardel (6) Grimaldo (7) Fernandes (7) Fejsa (6) Pizzi (5) Salvio (6) Cervi (7) Seferović (6).
Substitutes: Gabriel (6) Rafa (6) Živković (6).
Bayern Munich can extend their perfect record this season when they travel to last year's runners-up, Schalke 04. The Royal Blues are yet to pick up a point in the Bundesliga this season, although Domenico Tedesco's side were able to secure a draw against Porto in midweek.
Portuguese giants Benfica meanwhile will host C.D. Aves at the Estádio da Luz this weekend, with the Eagles next heavyweight clash in Liga NOS not coming until December.