James jump-starts Bayern Munich comeback in 2-1 win at Sevilla
Bayern Munich took a major step towards the Champions League semifinals with a fortunate 2-1 win over Sevilla on Tuesday.
Pablo Sarabia opened the scoring for La Liga's seventh-place side, who more than held their own against the nervy German champions. But the game turned after two wicked deflections left Sevilla goalkeeper David Soria helpless. First, former Manchester City winger Jesus Navas turned Franck Ribery's cross into his own net five minutes after Bayern fell behind, before Thiago's header on 68 minutes took a wicked deflection off ex-Schalke defender Sergio Escudero to hand the Bavarians a precious away win.
Bayern blasted the door to the semifinals wide open with a hard-fought 2-1 win on Spanish soil, showing a certain Jose Mourinho how it can be done. Crucially, Bayern were able to grab a crucial away goal -- unlike against Real Madrid (2014), Barelonca (2015) or Atletico (2016). After leaving Spain as winners for the first time in six matches, Bayern will fancy their chances of getting the job done at home.
Bayern conceded for the 12th Champions League game in succession on away soil and could have been three goals down by the time the own goal(s) turned the tide.
Manager rating out of 10
10 -- Jupp Heynckes extended his record to 12 consecutive Champions League wins, having engineered a remarkable transformation of a Bayern side that had gone stale under former supremo Carlo Ancelotti. The 72-year-old Heynckes will be a huge loss when he steps down at the end of the season.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Sven Ulreich, 7 -- Hardly tested for long periods, but had to produce a fine stop from substitute Sandro Ramirez with time running out to keep his side ahead.
DF Juan Bernat, 3 -- Thrown in at the deep end for his first Champions League game of the season, the former Valencia player was caught badly out of position for the goal and picked up a booking in frustration soon after. On a yellow card, he was always going to be hooked at half-time.
DF Mats Hummels, 6 -- Headed narrowly wide inside the opening three minutes and was always a threat from set plays, growing in confidence as Bayern gained a stranglehold on the tie.
DF Jerome Boateng, 6 -- Struggled in the opening half hour but gradually got to grips with the game.
DF Joshua Kimmich, 6 -- Featured in every Champions League game and improved a great deal in the second half when not called upon to defend so often.
MF Javi Martinez, 9 -- Martinez made a marvelous saving tackle early in second half and was also denied a certain goal by a fantastic save from David Soria. Restored to a holding defensive midfield role under Heynckes, the Spaniard is always one of the first names on Don Jupp's team sheet.
MF Arturo Vidal, 5 -- The game passed him by in the first half hour and he was substituted after picking a thigh problem immediately after Bayern fell behind.
MF Thiago, 7 -- Awful in the first half, like many of his colleagues, before coming to life in the second period, going close with an acrobatic overhead kick before grabbing the precious winner with a close-range header.
MF Franck Ribery, 7 -- Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. A mixture of brilliance and foolishness from Ribery, who last scored in the Champions League during a 7-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk in March 2015. Bayern's enfant terrible was lucky to stay on the pitch after only 13 minutes after a reckless challenge followed up by a temper tantrum, pushing fellow Frenchman Wissam Ben Yedder to the ground. Bayern's longest servant, who turns 35 on Saturday, was pivotal in both goals, crossing for the inadvertent equaliser and laying on Thiago's precious winner in the second half.
MF Thomas Muller, 6 -- Bayern's captain toiled industriously but never looked like adding to his club-record tally of 42 goals in the competition.
FW Robert Lewandowski, 5 -- Lewandowski was largely anonymous throughout and never a factor in the game.
MF James Rodriguez, 9 -- Kept up his record of featuring in every Champions League game this season when he replaced Vidal just after Bayern fell behind. Immediately, the Colombia playmaker turned the game on its head, playing in Ribery with his first touch for the crucial away goal. James continued to be the fulcrum during Bayern's much improved second period.
DF Rafinha, 8 -- Replaced the struggling Bernat at half-time, with the Spaniard at risk of a red card and complete embarrassment. Never usually gets any plaudits, but the Brazilian hardly put a foot wrong in his steady and reliable manner.
MF Arjen Robben, NR -- No doubt, seriously peeved at not starting, Robben came on for the final 12 minutes for his veteran wing partner Ribery.
Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.