Renato Sanches comes in from the cold to star for Bayern vs. ex-club Benfica

Renato Sanches got a rare start and made the most of it with a goal vs. former club Benfica. Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images

On his first Bayern Munich start in 410 days, forgotten man Renato Sanches enjoyed a fairy-tale return to his former club Benfica scoring in a comfortable 2-0 Champions League win in Lisbon's Estadio da Luz.


Winning their 15th successive opening Champions League fixture, Bayern easily maintained their 100 percent start this season with former Golden Boy Sanches enjoying a Hollywood-style comeback on his old stomping ground. Interestingly, this was Bayern's first clean sheet away from home in the competition since Dec. 2015.


There were reports of Bayern fans battling with the stewards and police inside and outside the ground.

Manager rating out of 10

8 -- Niko Kovac made his Champions League coaching debut after 17 appearances as a player. Despite making six changes from the weekend, including bringing Sanches back in from the cold, Bayern cruised. Kovac has still won every game since being named Bayern boss, with the club accumulating an aggregate score of 17-2.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Manuel Neuer, 8 -- Produced fine reflex saves in each half to keep another clean sheet. He makes these types of saves look ridiculously easy.

DF David Alaba, 8 -- Full of running throughout and cleverly found Robert Lewandowski for the opener. Sound defensively, too.

DF Jerome Boateng, 7 -- Coasted through this game at walking pace. But after seeing his hopes of a move to PSG dashed, Boateng accused the Bayern board of a lack of support at the weekend. Watch this space.

DF Mats Hummels, 7 -- Enjoyed a leisurely evening in Lisbon alongside his 2014 World Cup-winning partner.

DF Joshua Kimmich, 7 -- Brilliantly broke free of his shackles to find Sanches in space to prompt the opening goal before picking up a caution for catching Franco Cervi with a stray elbow on 18 minutes. Successfully walked the red-card tightrope thereon after.

MF Javi Martinez, 7 -- Solid and dependable as ever before worryingly hobbling off in his fetching pink boots with a couple of minutes remaining.

MF Renato Sanches, 9 -- Who writes his scripts? Written off in many quarters after a disappointing loan spell at relegated Swansea, Sanches returned for a surprise first start in 410 days. Sanches wouldn't have started if Thiago hadn't hurt his big toe in training, but the former Golden Boy winner seized his chance to notch his first ever Bayern goal in 27 appearances. In fact, his last competitive goal came back in January 2016 (for Benfica). He lapped up the faith entrusted in him by Kovac and was heavily involved in the build-up to the opening goal before finishing off the move he started deep in his own half with the second on 54 minutes. Benfica's fans showed their appreciation for their ex-academy product with rousing applause. After this brilliant return, Sanches might just have a future under miracle worker Kovac.

MF James Rodriguez, 7 -- The ex-Porto player was jeered regularly on his return to Portugal, but he silenced the boo-boys with a deft assist for the onrushing Sanches to double Bayern's lead and settle the game as a contest. Hooked off for Leon Goretzka with 10 minutes remaining.

MF Franck Ribery, 6 -- Bayern's longest-serving player enjoyed a few bright moments, particularly when combining with Alaba for the opener, but was becoming more ineffective when replaced by Gnabry just after the hour. The 35-year-old hasn't scored in the Champions League since March 2015.

MF Arjen Robben, 7 -- Should have crowned an enterprising display with a goal but couldn't find a way past German goalkeeper Odisseas Vlachodimos. He galloped clear on 13 minutes but saw his shot blocked and almost scored with his weaker right before half-time. He was still going strong in the final seconds but shot straight at the keeper again.

FW Robert Lewandowski, 8 -- Scored with his first chance after 10 minutes, casually slotting home to silence the boisterous home crowd for his 46th career Champions League goal A goal or two in April's semi-finals would be more valuable though.


MF Serge Gnabry, 6 -- Replaced Ribery just after the hour and saw a goal narrowly chalked off for offside.

MF Leon Goretzka, N/R -- The free transfer replaced James for the final 10 and will likely get more time against his former side Schalke on Saturday.

MF Thomas Muller, N/R -- Completed a century of Champions League games with one of his briefest cameos, replacing the hobbling Martinez for the final few minutes.