Chelsea 0-3 Bayern Munich | Lampard's Blues no match for rampant Bavarians | UEFA Champions League 2019-20
- Serge Gnabry and Robert Lewandowski combined to dismantle the hosts as Bayern now takes a seemingly unassailable lead into the second-leg.
In what may have surprised only a few, Bayern Munich humbled Chelsea at Stamford Bridge with a resounding 3-0 win. Serge Gnabry and Robert Lewandowski combined to dismantle the hosts as the Bavarians now take a seemingly unassailable lead into the second-leg.
Frank Lampard opted to go with the same line-up that downed local rivals Tottenham Hotspur just days ago in the Premier League. However, what he may not have realised was that Bayern were a different kettle of fish.
The reigning Bundesliga champions came into the match as the only team in the competition with a 100% record, having won all their six group games, and were expected to prove to be a tough nut for Chelsea's young guns to crack.
And a tough nut they were. The visitors flew out of the blocks right from the get-go, testing the Blues by carving out some early, half-chances. Lampard's decision to stick with three at the back to defend against Bayern's front-three was bold, but worked just alright in the opening stanza despite repeated incisions from the men in red.
Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller were the primary source of menace, while the latter even rattled the crossbar at one point.
Credit where credit is due, and you must credit Willy Caballero too for his crucial interventions. The Argentine charged out of his line several times to avert danger, and also pulled off vital saves to deny Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski.
Meanwhile, Chelsea were struggling to get out of their own half. The Bavarians held sway over the contest for large swathes of the opening half, as the only moments that the Blues showed attacking intent was when the wing-backs managed to drive forward. The likes of Ross Barkley and Mason Mount were almost non-existent.
Bayern might have been livid not to have broken the deadlock despite clear dominance, though that would change just six minutes into the second stanza.
Cesar Azpilicueta's slip-up allowed Gnabry to cut inside from the left and connect with Lewandowski, who then drove forward to cut back for the winger to slot home into an empty net. Chelsea's resistance was finally broken, and in no time, the damage was doubled.
Lewandowski and Gnabry combined once more, as the Polish ace beat the Blues skipper for a long ball from Manuel Neuer, and then after a neat one-two released Gnabry, who glided into the box and arrowed a cool finish beyond Caballero.
The tie appeared to be done and dusted already. Chelsea had little to riposte, and Lampard threw caution to the wind as he brought on Tammy Abraham and Willian in a double-change at the hour mark. Soon after, they saw a gilt-edged chance to reduce the deficit, go begging: Willian's cross from the right went sailing across the face of the goal with nobody to tap it in, and Bayern punished them for that with a third.
Alphonso Davies latched onto Philippe Coutinho's clever back pass to embark on a lung-bursting run till the byline before squaring it off for Lewandowski for a simple tap-in.
To add insult to the injury, Marcos Alonso was sent off soon after for an apparent 'violent conduct' on the Pole. The Spaniard appeared to brush his hand against the striker's face while trying to thwart his run, and was shown a straight red after a brief review on the VAR.
Given the contrasting run of form of the two sides lately, there was little doubt in which way this tie was headed. And even if you weren't convinced, then Bayern had made it seemingly clear in the opening exchanges itself.
They were quick, incisive, organised and well-drilled - Chelsea were none of those, and paid a heavy price eventually. Of course, this team lacks experience and is currently undergoing a transitional phase, but the match highlighted Lampard's Sisyphean task of resurrection at hand.
The damage could've been worse last night, especially after the hosts were at a numerical disadvantage following Alonso's sending off. So if anything, Chelsea must feel really fortuitous to have ended with only a 3-0 defeat and nothing more.
The Bavarians have little left to do at home in the return leg. The Blues will obviously look upon the improbable 2012 triumph at the Allianz Arena for inspiration, but this ship appears to have sailed already.Published 26 Feb 2020, 22:26 IST