Soccer-Lewandowski, Mueller propel dominant Bayern to easy win at Barca


Soccer Football - Champions League - Group E - FC Barcelona vs Bayern Munich - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain - September 14, 2021 Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring their second goal with Alphonso Davies REUTERS/Albert Gea

BARCELONA (Reuters) -Two goals from Robert Lewandowski and one from Thomas Mueller propelled Bayern Munich to a 3-0 win at Barcelona in their opening Champions League game on Tuesday in another brutal demonstration of the gulf in class between the two sides.

Mueller gave Bayern the lead in the 34th minute of the Group E clash with a strike from outside the area which deflected off Barca defender Eric Garcia to confound goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Lewandowski struck the German champions' second in the 54th, tapping into the net from close range on the rebound after Jamal Musiala had hit the post as Bayern made a rampant start following the interval, hemming their hosts into their own half.

The Polish striker twisted the knife further into Barcelona by scoring again in the 85th, collecting the ball in the area after another shot had come back off the post and tormenting the defence before calmly beating Ter Stegen.

The scoreline was not quite as damning for Barca as the 8-2 drubbing Bayern gave them in the quarter-finals two seasons ago but the performance was just as hopeless as they were routinely dispossessed and struggled to cope with the visitors' intensity.

"I can't complain about the team's attitude but there's a big difference in quality between the two teams," said Barca coach Ronald Koeman.

"They're a team that has been playing together for a long time and they were even stronger when they brought players off the bench. We have a lot of young players who will get better in the next two or three years.

"It's very difficult to accept but I hope things improve once we get players back from injury."

While Barca despaired at their inferiority, Bayern revelled in another dominant performance against the Catalans, who they also hammered 3-0 at the Camp Nou in the 2013 semi-finals.

"It's a lot of fun playing here, the boys enjoyed it," Mueller said.

"When you win 3-0 here, it's a really important signal. We're really pleased. We gave very little away at the back and going forward, we could have scored one or two more."

Barca made a promising start in their first Champions League game in front of supporters at the Camp Nou since December 2019, although while the crowd was limited to 40,000 due to coronavirus restrictions there were fewer fans in attendance owing to a lack of appetite for the post-Lionel Messi era.

BAYERN SUPERIORITY

But Bayern soon showed their superiority and it took a strong hand from Ter Stegen to prevent Leroy Sane giving the Germans the lead, while Gerard Pique had to slide across the ground to block a goal-bound strike from Musiala.

Barcelona's only real attempt on goal in the first half came from a free kick, defender Ronald Araujo meeting Memphis Depay's cross and heading just over the bar.

Bayern finally took the lead their play merited through Mueller, who scored twice in the 8-2 hammering of Barca in Lisbon and has now netted seven times against the Catalans in Europe's top competition.

Loud boos could be heard at halftime but things got more desperate for the hosts after the break and by the end of the game Barca fans were sarcastically applauding the team whenever they managed to recover the ball, resigned to their fate.

Pique also had a tone of resignation as he reflected on the defeat.

"We are what we are, I'm sure we're going to compete again later in the season even though it's going to be a difficult year," he said.

"Overall I think the scoreline was a bit unfair but we cannot kid ourselves, they were far better than us."

(Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Pritha Sarkar, Ken Ferris and Toby Davis)

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