Bayern Munich began their Bundesliga title defence in impressive fashion, comfortably beating Bayern Leverkusen 3-1 at the Allianz Arena in Munich.
After a sub-par summer, manager Carlo Ancelotti was under severe pressure to deliver and while the Italian tactician was unruffled in front of the media, there was no denying that a loss on the opening day would have been disastrous.
Fortunately for him, new boys Niklas Sule and Corentin Tolisso headed Bayern into a commanding lead early on and from then on it was largely one-way traffic as the Bavarians tightened their grip.
Both sides observed a minute’s silence for the victims of the terror attacks in Barcelona and after a sombre start, a packed Allianz Arena was roaring once again.
Manuel Neuer, Arjen Robben, Jerome Boateng, Javi Martinez and James Rodriguez were all missing from the lineup but the hosts showcased their impressive squad depth as they outclassed their opponents from the off.
Sule rose highest to head home fellow summer signing Sebastian Rudy’s free-kick to give Bayern the lead in the 9th minute and Tolisso doubled their advantage ten minutes later after Arturo Vidal’s clever lob had set him up for an unmissable header.
— FC Bayern Munich (@FCBayernEN) August 19, 2017
Leversuken, who finished 12th last season, were bright on the counter, with Karim Bellarabi causing Bayern problems on the wing but Heiko Herrlich’s men were unable to even test Sven Ulreich in goal, sending a number of shots wide after some good build-up play.
Herrlich made a double change at half-time, sending on Julian Brandt and Aleksandar Dragovic and the duo injected fresh pace into the tie.
The second-half began with the visitors in the ascendancy, but all their graft was for nothing as a controversial 52nd minute penalty for Bayern effectively sealed the result of the tie.
Robert Lewandowski fell after a slight tug from Charles Aranguiz and while match referee Tobias Stieler waved away Bayern appeals, after consulting with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system, reversed his decision and awarded the hosts a spot-kick.
The Pole stepped up and calmly scored his first goal of the Bundesliga season, with goalkeeper Bernd Leno rooted to the spot.
Ancelotti brought on Rafinha and Arjen Robben on the hour-mark as he sought to rotate his team but it was Leverkusen who would find the next goal.
A flowing counter attack by the visitors was finished with aplomb by striker Admir Mehmedi to spark hopes of a comeback as there were still 25 minutes remaining till the full-time whistle.
However, Bayern held on and would not be breached again on the night to record a morale-boosting win as they added on to their German Supercup triumph over Borussia Dortmund earlier in the month.
They next take on Werder Bremen on August 27, an away tie that will test their title credentials while Leverkusen host last season’s runners-up Hoffenheim on the same day.
— FC Bayern Munich (@FCBayernEN) August 18, 2017