MUNICH, Germany – Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben and Robert Lewandowski scored two goals each as the German champions demolished Benfica 5-1 on Tuesday to reach the Champions League last 16 and lift some of the pressure off boss Niko Kovac.
Kovac is likely to cling on to his job for at least a few more days after Bayern secured victory with their best performance so far this season.
The embattled coach’s future has been in doubt for some time with Bayern sitting in fifth place in the Bundesliga, but Robben’s double strike in the first half quickly lifted the gloom at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday.
The 34-year-old Dutch winger, in his 10th and possibly last season at Bayern, put the hosts when he cut inside to curl in a shot with his left foot in the 13th minute following a superb solo run down the right wing.
It was a trademarked finish, with which he has terrorised goalkeepers for more than 15 years, and he repeated the trick in the 30th minute to give the hosts a 2-0 lead.
Forward Lewandowski grabbed his 50th Champions League goal with a header that went in off the post to give Bayern, who twice wasted a two-goal lead to draw 3-3 with promoted Fortuna Duesseldorf on Saturday, a comfortable halftime advantage.
The Bavarians conceded a goal through Gedson Fernandes a minute after the restart but there would be no meltdown for Bayern this time.
Lewandowski, who became only the seventh player to reach the 50-goal mark in the competition, restored their cushion with another glancing header and Franck Ribery slotted in from eight metres to make it 5-1 in the 76th.
Bayern are Group E leaders on 13 points but will have to wait until the last matchday on Dec. 12 at Ajax Amsterdam to see who finishes top, with the Dutch side two points behind, in second place, after a 2-0 win at AEK Athens.