"It's a good result," Manuel Neuer said after Bayern München's 1-0 win against Benfica, but the way the Eagles rallied after a dire start has given Rui Vitória's men plenty of hope.
Article top media content
"In the quarter-finals, the second leg is always the more important game," Bayern München coach Josep Guardiola explained after his side's 1-0 success against Benfica left everything open for the return fixture in Lisbon.
It was the Bundesliga leaders' third consecutive 1-0 win in all competitions – the hallmark of champions, some say – with Thomas Müller noting: "If we keep winning 1-0, we will go through." That optimism was shared by team-mate Manuel Neuer. "It's a good result," said the goalkeeper. "It is in our hands."
However, it was a far from convincing display by Guardiola's men. For the first time this season, the German titleholders failed to score more than once at home in the UEFA Champions League, though the coach put a brave face on it. "It was a hard game but I am happy with our performance," he said. "I was not surprised by their game; they are not easy to play against."
That did not initially seem to be the case. Arturo Vidal headed Bayern in front after just 110 seconds and but for Ederson's heroics Müller would have added a second and third for the hosts before the break. The longer the home side went without scoring, though, the more the visitors grew in confidence. "We caused Bayern problems and maybe deserved a goal," Benfica coach Rui Vitória reflected.
Benfica failed to convert their chances, but Rui Vitória has cause for hope; their domestic rivals Porto beat Bayern 3-1 at home in last season's quarter-finals and a similar result next week would send the Eagles through, very much against the odds. However, they will need to sparkle without in-form striker Jonas, who will be serving a suspension.
Bayern, though, maintain an advantage, however slender. "It would have been better if we had scored more, but we didn't concede," Arturo Vidal told UEFA.com. "That's important when you're at home."
Bayern are not a side that goes out to defend leads and with Benfica needing a win the return leg promises to be a more open encounter than the first. "Of course, we want to win in Lisbon," Guardiola said. "We want to score one or two goals there."
Just as he did before Tuesday's match, the Bayern coach insisted "there are no favourites" going into next week's deciding contest. Given that the first leg was a lot closer that many predicted, perhaps he is right.