Bayern Munich, missing half a dozen players to the quarantine of Covid-19, exceeded Dynamo of Kiev 2-1 to secure first place in Group E of the Champions League with a game to spare.
Robert Lewandowski launched a spectacular header in the 14th minute to put the Bundesliga champion in front amid heavy snowfall in Kiev. Kingsley Coman then doubled the lead with three minutes before the break.
Dynamo, now eliminated from the competition, cut the deficit with their first group stage goal of the season through Denys Garmash with 20 minutes remaining to set up a dramatic finish. The Ukrainian team forced Manuel Neuer to make a great save five minutes later before a pole stopped them in injury time as they sought to equalize.
Bayern, desperate to bounce back from Friday’s shocking 2-1 loss to Augsburg in the Bundesliga, lead the group with five wins from five games.
Julian Nagelsmann named just four outfield players on the bench, all young or fringe players, but with Lewandowski at the helm, Bayern are almost unstoppable. His wonderful early goal means that he has now scored in nine consecutive Champions League games.
Barcelona missed a chance to secure second place in Group E behind Bayern as they drew goalless at home by Benfica. New coach Xavi thought his team had scored a late goal with Ronald Araujo’s volley, only to have the goal disallowed for offside. In injury time, Benfica wasted a great opportunity when Haris Seferovic fired wide after breaking the goal.
In Group F, Atalanta tied 3-3 on the Swiss side Youths. Atalanta took the lead through Duvan Zapata in the 10th minute, but Theoson Siebatcheu headed the equalizer from a corner shortly before half-time. José Luis Palomino sent Atalanta in front six minutes into the second half, only for Vincent Sierro to make it 2-2 with 10 minutes to go. A spectacular shot by Silvan Hefti put the hosts in front, but Atalanta’s substitute, Luis Muriel, finished off a good free kick with his first touch after going out to rescue a point.
In group H Malmö and Zenit Saint Petersburg drew 1-1 in Sweden. Soren Rieks put the hosts in front midway through the first half before Artem Dzyuba saw his penalty saved in the 52nd minute and then VAR disallowed a goal for offside in the hour. With four minutes to go, Dmitri Chistyakov was sent off for a second warning, but Yaroslav Rakitsky remained calm to place a penalty in injury time after this time the VAR review was in favor of the Russians.
In Group G, Jonathan David’s goal in the first half was enough to give Little a 1-0 home win against RB Salzburg. The victory moved the French club one point ahead at the top. Seville defeat Wolfsburg 2-0 with an early header from Joan Jordan and an injury-time goal from Rafa Mir to close one point for the Austrian club, as the standings are ready to move on to the last round of matches.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism