Lahm: Bayern were chasing shadows against Manchester City

The ex-Germany international feels the Premier League side were the better team early on but insisted Bayern eventually deserved their win

Philipp Lahm has admitted that Bayern Munich were chasing shadows in the opening stages of their 1-0 Champions League win over Manchester City at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday.

The Bundesliga champions initially struggled against City but took the initiative after Pep Guardiola made some tactical changes, eventually recording a narrow win courtesy of Jerome Boateng’s late half-volley.

“It was a bit difficult to start with because Manchester saw a lot of the ball and we were chasing shadows,” he told the club’s official website.

“But we switched things around and it was a lot better.

“We had some huge chances in the first half, and we had the better chances over the full 90 minutes. 

“We’ve played one of the best teams around and they’re very dangerous. You don’t win matches like that just by turning up. 

“We worked hard and we’re pleased with the win. We wanted to open with a win, although it’s obviously lucky when the winning goal comes so late.”

Bayern will be looking to make it two wins out of two when they face CSKA Moscow in the second round of fixtures on September 30, with the Russian side aiming to bounce back from their 5-1 mauling by Roma on Wednesday.

Robben: The only way is up for Bayern

The Dutchman has acknowledged that the Bundesliga champions still have room for improvement after their 1-0 win over Manchester City

Arjen Robben has admitted that Bayern Munich have yet to find their best form this season in the wake of their 1-0 Champions League win over Manchester City at the Allianz Arena.

The Bundesliga champions created a number of chances to open the scoring against City, but eventually needed a late Jerome Boateng strike to bag the full three points.

Robben concedes Bayern were not at their best on the night but is confident they will quickly improve their performances.

“We didn’t play as well as we can and we still need to find our rhythm, but we’re on the right track,” Robben told the official Uefa website.

“We’re working on certain things and the only way is up. We got the three points and that was the most important thing.

“Sometimes chances go in, sometimes they don’t. Not everyone who gets a chance is going to score. But there were plenty of positives, we created a lot of good opportunities.”

The Dutchman has encountered some minor fitness problems in the opening weeks of the 2014-15 campaign after an intense World Cup, but he is slowly approaching peak fitness again.

“Fitness-wise I’m doing well. I started the season really well against Wolfsburg, but after that I’ve had a few problems. They’re healing nicely, though, and hopefully soon they’ll be gone.”

Guardiola: Big hearts & graft saw Bayern past Man City

The coach was thrilled with how the Bavarians dispatched the English champions – even if they did require a late goal to give them all three points

Pep Guardiola praised his players’ versatility and “big hearts” as they found a way to beat Manchester City in their Champions League opener on Wednesday.

Bayern failed to convert their superiority into goals until the final minute at the Allianz Arena when defender Jerome Boateng fired a wonderful effort through a crowded penalty area and past City goalkeeper Joe Hart.

It was hard on the English champions, but Guardiola felt Bayern got what they deserved and he singled out Rafinha and debutant Mehdi Benatia for special praise.

He told Sky: “Everybody is happy we have our first three points in this hard group. We had many chances against a very good team.

“At the start we had some problem with the possession. We then switched from three at the back to four at the back and it got better.

“You have to understand that Rafinha and Benatia have played very little recently. They played well and showed big heart. Sometimes it is the mind that makes the difference. If somebody really wants to play, he can play.”

Bayern’s win and Roma’s 5-1 demolition of CSKA Moscow mean Group E has two early pacesetters. Guardiola thinks, however, the pool will go to the final round of matches before the qualifiers are established.

“This group will be decided on the final matchday,” he said. “I told my players before this game, ‘I am not sure we will win’.

“But this is not decisive. The last match against Moscow will be decisive. There is huge pressure in this group and it helps that we took some of it away by beating a strong City team.”

Bayern Munich 1-0 Manchester City: Boateng breaks Hart's resistance

The England goalkeeper was finally beaten late on having kept out Pep Guardiola’s side for the majority of the 90 minutes as City suffered defeat in their group stage opener

Jerome Boateng scored a dramatic late winner as Bayern Munich begun the Champions League with a 1-0 victory over Manchester City.

City goalkeeper Joe Hart frustrated the Bundesliga champions for long periods of the Group E opener at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday, as Bayern looked set to start their quest to regain the Champions League with a draw.

Thomas Muller ought to have put the Bavarian giants in front inside a minute when he rounded Hart before firing wide, and he appeared set to rue that glaring miss as City rode their luck.

Manuel Pellegrini could only watch on from the stands, with his assistant Ruben Cousillas taking charge on the sidelines, as the Chilean served a touchline ban carried over from last season and must have had his head in his hands as former City defender Boateng’s half-volley deflected past Hart at the death.

The Premier League champions produced a stirring fightback to win at Bayern last season, but were left heartbroken this time around.

Mehdi Benatia was handed his Bayern debut, while fellow defender Rafinha made his first appearance of the season after recovering from an ankle injury.

Arjen Robben was only deemed fit enough to start on the bench after recovering from a knee problem.

Edin Dzeko, Yaya Toure, and Samir Nasri all returned to the City starting line-up as Sergio Aguero, Frank Lampard and James Milner dropped to the bench, while Bacary Sagna replaced the suspended Pablo Zabaleta.

Guardiola stressed the importance of Bayern starting their European campaign with a win to set the tone for the group and they should have been in front with less than a minute gone.

City were given a let-off when Mario Gotze burst forward and laid the ball off to Robert Lewandowski, whose deft flick put Muller through but the Germany forward could only shoot into the side-netting with the goal gaping after skipping around Hart.

The visitors failed to heed the warning and were indebted to a fine reflex save from Hart to keep out Muller’s powerful header after he rose to meet Juan Bernat’s inviting cross, before the City keeper got down well to palm away Gotze’s deflected strike.

The game was being played at a frantic pace and Dzeko almost put City in front 22 minutes in with a left-foot effort which flashed just past the far post following a swift counter-attack.

City were struggling to cope with Bayern’s passing and movement , and the busy Hart denied David Alaba before Lewandowski fired just wide from a tight angle after rounding the keeper.

Normal service was resumed at the start of the second half, as Hart was alert to the danger once again to comfortably keep out Gotze’s shot from inside the penalty area.

Bayern remained on the front foot as Hart flapped at a cross from the right before scrambling back to tip Bernat’s effort over the crossbar, then David Silva had a chance to put the visitors in front against the run of play when he raced into the box and headed Jesus Navas’ cross wide.

Hart then spilled Rafinha’s shot, and reacted well to deny Muller following up but the linesman’s flag was up as City lived dangerously once again.

Robben was introduced late on and was in the thick of the action when he went down in the penalty area, but the referee rightly waved play on as Bayern’s frustrations mounted.

And City had a penalty shout of their own when Navas claimed he was caught by Benatia, but the referee again waved play on as the game appeared destined to end goalless.

However, Boateng popped up as the match entered stoppage time, with his well struck right-foot effort deflecting off the back of Gotze and beyond a helpless Hart, who had fought so valiantly for a clean sheet.

Robben: Bayern must aim for Champions League final

The Dutchman is full of ambition as the Bavarians prepare to take on Manchester City in their Group E opener

Arjen Robben has stressed that a team of Bayern Munich’s stature should always be aiming to win the Champions League.

The Bavarians were eliminated in the semi-finals in 2013-14 after winning European club football’s elite competition the year before and Robben is desperate to bring back the trophy to Munich once more this term.

“Bayern Munich should be aiming for the Champions League final again,” Robben told Sport/Voetbalmagazine.

“You always have to be careful and make sure you don’t get arrogant, but you must have that ambition with the team Bayern have.

“You simply don’t start your European campaign with the ambition to make it to the quarter-finals or perhaps a bit further.

“Of course, it’s extra special because the final is in Berlin. That stadium suits us quite well. I won three out of four DFB-Pokal finals there.

“The further you go into the competition, the closer you get to the final, but I still enjoy the games in the group stages as well. It’s something completely different with the Champions League hymn and the evening games.”

Bayern open their Champions League campaign with a home game against Manchester City on Wednesday.