Serge Gnabry scored four goals as Bayern Munich routed Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League on Tuesday. (Getty)
Serge Gnabry scored four goals and Bayern Munich also leaned on the individual brilliance of Robert Lewandowski and Joshua Kimmich to overcome Tottenham Hotspur’s fast start and earn a convincing 7-2 win in the marquee match of Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League group stage slate.
Early on, it didn’t look like it would be the German champions’ night at all. Spurs went ahead after just 12 minutes on a controversial strike by Heung-min Son, who just barely beat Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer. Defender Corentin Tolisso ceded possession to begin the scoring sequence, but Tolisso contended he’d been fouled on the play.
While Tolisso’s appeals fell on deaf ears, it only took Bayern three minutes to respond through a chance that Kimmich created himself (via Bleacher Report):
Tottenham continued to control the play through the end of the opening 45 minutes. But Bayern still went into the dressing room up 2-1 after Lewandowski’s unstoppable effort beat Hugo Lloris on the stroke of halftime:
In the second half, Bayern took control of the match. The visitors made their lopsided possession edge count in a big way less than 10 minutes after play resumed, with Gnabry scoring twice two minutes apart to effectively kill of the match:
Spurs managed to pull one back on a Harry Kane penalty awarded after video review determined that Danny Rose had been clipped inside the box by Kingsley Coman, briefly making the score 4-2. But any hopes of a comeback were dashed when Bayern scored its fifth, and they added two more goals before it was over. Here are three quick thoughts on one of the most entertaining Champions League contests we’ve seen this season.
Spurs far from convincing
Tottenham started brightly enough, as one would expect them to on home soil. But despite the extensive experience they’ve accumulated in Europe’s top club competition over the last several years — after all, Spurs reached the final last season, finishing runner-up to fellow English side Liverpool — they looked like boys against men on this night.
Meantime, Bayern played the perfect road match. They weathered the early onslaught, and responded in the right way to the early non-call (which was probably the correct decision), killing the home side’s momentum flat. A combination of Lewandowski’s quality and relentlessness produced the second goal against the run of play. And the visitors used the knowledge that Spurs would come out pressing in the second half to punish them the other way.
After that, the rout was on.
Bayern Munich back at its best
For a team that expects to win the Champions League every spring but hasn’t hoisted the trophy since 2013, this felt like a statement game from FC Hollywood. Bayern have gotten a bit unlucky not to get back to the final since, and good fortune is always required in tournament play. There’s a long way to go, of course. The knockout phase rarely resembles the first round.
Still, who would bet against this Big Red Machine, which somehow looks even stronger after club icons Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery left Munich at the end of last season? Lewandowski might be the best No. 9 in world football. Gnabry is proving to be more than a capable running mate. They’re not weak anywhere on the field.
Again, it’s still crazy early. But after humiliating Spurs in front of their own fans, don’t be shocked if it’s a sign of what’s to come.
What now for Tottenham?
For Spurs, this is about as bad as it gets. After getting outplayed in a 2-2 draw at Greece’s Olympiacos two weeks ago, Pochettino and Co. need results in the last four Champions League group stage games to guarantee passage to the knockout stage. Last year is long gone. For a club looking to take another step forward this season, they’ve suddenly got their work cut out for them.
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