Lewandowski passes 50-goal mark as Bayern win 20th German Cup to complete double

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Bayern players celebrate after the German Cup (DFB Pokal) final football match Bayer 04 Leverkusen v FC Bayern Munich at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin on July 4, 2020. (AFP / POOL / Alexander Hassenstein)
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Bayern Munich's Polish forward Robert Lewandowski scores the 1-4 goal past Leverkusen's Finnish goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky. (AFP)
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Updated 04 July 2020

Lewandowski passes 50-goal mark as Bayern win 20th German Cup to complete double

  • Bayern was crowned Bundesliga champions for the eighth straight year last Saturday
  • The team have won all of their 11 games since the season resumed in mid-May

BERLIN: Robert Lewandowski passed the 50-goal mark this season as Bayern Munich completed the double with a 4-2 victory over Bayer Leverkusen behind closed doors to win a 20th German Cup on Saturday.
Bundesliga champions Bayern dominated at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium as David Alaba smashed home an early free-kick before Serge Gnabry added the second goal in the first-half.
Lewandowski has 51 goals in total this season after scoring twice in the second-half either side of a Sven Bender header for Leverkusen.
Kai Havertz converted a penalty deep into added time for Leverkusen.
Bayern, crowned Bundesliga champions for the eighth straight year last Saturday, have won all of their 11 games since the season resumed in mid-May after a two-months hiatus due to the coronavirus.
They could finish the season winning the treble as they are among the favorites for the Champions League finals in Lisbon next month.
This was the 13th time in the club’s history they have won the double.
Lewandowski, crowned Bundesliga top-scorer for the fifth time last weekend, netted six times in the cup, has 34 league goals and 11 more in the Champions League this season.
Leverkusen completed a hat-trick of defeats after also losing the 2002 and 2009 cup finals in Berlin.
When Lewandowski was clattered by defender Edmond Tapsoba on 16 minutes, it was Alaba who swung the resulting free kick inside the post to give Bayern the opening goal.
They doubled their lead after Joshua Kimmich won the ball in midfield eight minutes later.
His pass split the defense, Gnabry sprinted onto the ball and fired past Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky to make it 2-0 at the break.
With players’ calls echoing around the near-empty terraces of the cavernous stadium, where Germany head coach Joachim Loew was one of a handful of guests, the tempo dropped after the break.
Having skied a shot at goal moments earlier, Lewandowski made it 3-0 when he controlled a clearance kick by goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and tried a long-range speculative shot at Hradecky.
The Leverkusen keeper parried the shot, but watched in horror as it rolled behind him and over the goal line on 59 minutes.
It fired life into Leverkusen, whose center-back Sven Bender slipped his marker Leon Goretzka and headed home on 64 minutes.
Leverkusen nearly got a second moments later when Kevin Volland and Havertz both failed to connect with a cross.
Lewandowski claimed his second when he fired home Ivan Perisic’s pass on 89 minutes.
Bayern defender Alphonso Davies conceded the penalty in the fourth minute of added time which Havertz converted just before the whistle.


Atletico catching all the breaks in Champions League

Updated 12 August 2020

Atletico catching all the breaks in Champions League

  • A victory against Leipzig will put Atletico back in the semifinals for the first time since 2017

LISBON: So far so good for Atletico Madrid in the quest for their first Champions League title.

Diego Simeone’s team have caught all the breaks going into the decisive final-eight tournament in Lisbon.

Old foes Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo are gone. They drew Leipzig instead of a more traditional powerhouse for the quarterfinals. And their rival lost its top player after Timo Werner left for Chelsea. Even when things went wrong and the squad was hit by COVID-19, Atletico avoided the worst as only two players were infected and they could still make the trip to Portugal.

Things have been looking good for Simeone and his players.

A victory against Leipzig on Thursday will put Atletico back in the semifinals for the first time since it was eliminated by Ronaldo’s Madrid in the last four in 2017. Ronaldo and Madrid had defeated Atletico in the final in 2014 and 2016, and also ended the rival’s run in the quarterfinals in 2015.

Ronaldo again was Atletico’s nemesis last season after joining Juventus. Atletico lost to the Italian team in the round of 16 after Ronaldo scored a hat trick in the decisive second leg in Turin.

But this time Ronaldo and Juventus were eliminated by Lyon in the last 16, the same stage in which Madrid were knocked out of the tournament by Manchester City. Only two past champions are still left in the competition — Barcelona and Bayern Munich — and they play against each other in the opposite side of the draw, meaning Atletico could only meet one of them in the final.

Leipzig are a relative newcomer to the Champions League, having reached the group stage only twice. This is the first time they made it to the knockout round. They eliminated Tottenham in the round of 16, but now they won't count on top scorer Werner, who did not extend his contract by a few weeks to finish the season with the German club before moving to Chelsea.

Atletico stunned defending European champion Liverpool in the last 16, advancing after a 3-2 win in England.

“The game against Liverpool will go down in history and was one of the best we’ve had in a long time,” Atletico striker Diego Costa said. “It gave fans high expectations and we will give our best to try to meet those expectations. Hopefully we will play well and luck will stay on our side.”

Costa said Atletico will not take Leipzig lightly despite  the rival’s lack of experience in international competitions.

“They are very strong on the ball and know what they are about,” he said. “They have made it to the quarterfinals and have no pressure.”

There was a scare within Atletico this week when it announced two positive test results for COVID-19 among the group that was traveling to Lisbon. There were concerns that an outbreak within the club could have affected the team’s participation in the tournament in Portugal, but new tests showed that only Ángel Correa and Sime Vrsaljko were infected and the squad could travel to Lisbon.

Vrsaljko was not even going to play because he is nursing an injury, while Correa isn't among Atletico’s top stars even though he led the team in assists this season.

After coming agonizingly close recently, Atletico hope the breaks will keep going their way and that they  will finally get to lift the coveted European trophy.