Bayern Munich produced an extraordinary performance in the Italian capital to beat Roma, 7-1, and put one foot in the Round of 16 of the Champions League. At the famed Stadio Olimpico, where he turned out for a season in Roma colors as a player and lifted the Champions League for the first time as a manager with Barcelona five years ago, Pep Guardiola oversaw one of his finest performances as a coach. Bayern brilliantly tore apart a Roma side that finished second in Serie A last season and had taken four points from two games in an impressive start to their return to Europe’s elite.
Five of Bayern’s goals came in the first half, with Robben getting two and Robert Lewandowski, Mario Götze, and Thomas Muller adding the others against the shell-shocked hosts. Roma pulled one back after the break when Gervinho headed in from a seemingly offside position, but it did little to dent what was an incredible night for the German champions that culminated with substitutes Franck Ribery and Xherdan Shaqiri coming off the bench to make it in a sensational seven. Having made it a perfect nine points from three matches, a win at home against Roma in two weeks’ time will now seal Bayern’s progress.
The visitors got the perfect start when going in front in just the eighth minute. It was a strike to set the tone for the evening as Robben received the ball on the right edge of the penalty box with seemingly little angle to fire at goal but picked out the far corner of the net with a wonderful curling effort on his famed left foot. Roma got 15 minutes of respite but then the goals came thick and fast. Before they knew what had hit them the hosts went from trying to compete for vital Champions League points to simply trying to avoid an historic humiliation.
Some of Bayern’s play in an 11-minute spell that featured four goals was a joy to behold. The second in particular caught the eye. Gotze laid a pass into Lewandowski on the edge of the box and then continued his run to receive a clever flick return from the striker before placing the ball low inside the near post with veteran Roma goalkeeper Morgan de Sanctis unmoved. Less than two minutes later he was beaten again. Lewandowski this time getting the finishing touch, having been allowed to run free and head Juan Bernat’s cross into the net from just six yards out.
De Sanctis should have done better with the fourth, having got a hand to ball, but could only divert Robben’s shot from the inside left channel into the net. With nine minutes remaining before the interval, Roma’s first-half misery was complete when Kostas Manolas was penalized for a handball in the box and for his second Champions League appearance in succession, Muller converted from the penalty spot.
Before Tuesday, no side had ever been 5-0 up away from home after 45 minutes in the Champions League. Amazingly, though, Bayern were outdone on the same night with Shakhtar Donetsk taking a 6-0 advantage into the break against BATE Borisov.
Taking their foot off the gas, a sixth goal wasn’t immediately forthcoming for Bayern, and, indeed it was the hosts who managed to reduce their arrears. Gervinho was first denied a consolation when Manuel Neuer pulled off a remarkable save from the Ivorian’s volley off a free-kick from just a couple of yards out. The former Arsenal forward did beat Neuer in the 66th minute when Roma broke incisively and Belgium midfielder Radja Nainggolan crossed for an unmarked and, to Bayern’s frustration, offside, Gervinho to find the net.
This, though, was resoundingly Bayern’s night. And it was only fitting when they had they last words. First, Robben found Ribery running through and the substitute delivered a delightful chipped finish over a stranded De Sanctis, before Shaqiri followed up Rafinha’s spilled shot to complete an incredible rout and match Roma’s heaviest ever defeat, suffered against Manchester United in 2007.