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AEK Athens 0 Bayern Munich 2: Lewandowski helps to further ease Kovac woes

By Opta
Robert Lewandowski was on target for Bayern Munich

Munich, October 24: Quickfire second-half goals from Javi Martinez and Robert Lewandowski secured a routine 2-0 win for Bayern Munich over AEK Athens in Champions League Group E.

The Bundesliga champions hogged possession but generally laboured against a deep-lying home defence during the opening 45 minutes.

Their patience was belatedly rewarded in the 61st minute as Martinez netted in opportunistic fashion.

Lewandowski proved a more familiar goalscoring source two minutes later, moving Niko Kovac's side on to seven points at the halfway point of the round-robin stage.

Former Barcelona defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy cleared a dangerous Serge Gnabry cross behind, with Robert Lewandowski poised to tap in, although Bayern's dominance of possession early on did not mean plentiful opportunities.

Ezequiel Ponce kept the Bundesliga champions on their toes by stealing in between Mats Hummels and Niklas Sule to slash just wide in the 20th minute.

James Rodriguez failed to pick out Lewandowski for a seemingly certain goal following some terrible AEK defending and it remained goalless at the break after the lively Gnabry thumped into the side netting.

The hosts tentatively showed a little more attacking ambition in the second period – Viktor Klonaridis sending an overhead kick wide before the hour.

Neverthless, they fell behind when Martinez volleyed home. The Spain midfielder reacted quickest after Arjen Robben's shot from Hummels' cutback was blocked.

Lewandowski tapped into an unguarded net from point-blank range following a lovely link-up between Rafinha and Gnabry.

The Poland star almost had his second when AEK goalkeeper Vasillios Barkas allowed a flicked effort to squirm underneath him before recovering to grasp the ball on the goal-line.

What it means: More respite for Kovac

It was certainly not a performance that will live long in the memory and the ponderous nature of Bayern's early play against limited opponents mean Kovac cannot be considered out of the woods as far as his future is concerned. However, following their damaging run of four games without a win in all competitions heading into the October international break, the Bundesliga champions now have back-to-back victories following Saturday's 3-1 win over an obliging Wolfsburg.

Gnabry shines before producing champagne moment

If much of Bayern's first-half attacking was somewhat pedestrian, little of the blame could be attributed to Gnabry. The winger was a bundle of energy and invention throughout and his backheel to Rafinha in the build-up to Lewandowski's goal was a joy.

James fails to fire

AEK sitting in to frustrate Bayern's star-laden side is the sort of situation James would normally revel in. But the Colombia playmaker was unable to effectively operate as their locksmith, with his failure to set up Lewandowski before half time a particularly galling error. It was no surprise when Kovac chose him to make way for Leon Goretzka as soon as the two -goal cushion was established.

What's next

Bayern travel to Mainz on Saturday as they continue to try and make up lost ground in the Bundesliga. AEK entertain Aris Salonika, whose city rivals PAOK are top of the table in the Greek Superleague with seven wins from seven this term.

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    Story first published: Wednesday, October 24, 2018, 0:30 [IST]
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