Lisbon (AFP) – Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac believes the German champions have unearthed the next Lothar Matthaeus as Renato Sanches continues to resurrect his career with a stunning display at Benfica.
The 21-year-old sealed Bayern’s 2-0 win at Benfica on Wednesday as the Bavarian giants won their opening Champions League group game.
After Robert Lewandowski gave Bayern an early lead, Sanches finished a move he started after a powerful burst through midfield, by tapping home a cross early in the second half.
His goal capped an outstanding display and completes Sanches resurrection after two torrid seasons since joining Bayern as an 18-year-old from Benfica in the summer of 2016 for 35 million euros ($40.1m).
“It’s so special for me, I’ve played for Benfica for ten years, it’s where I learnt to play football and has a special place in my heart, I’m very happy,” he beamed.
So masterful was Sanches’ midfield performance at the Estadio da Luz that he was treated to a standing ovation by the home crowd and Bayern coach Niko Kovac was reminded of Bayern and Germany legend Matthaeus.
“Renato has an exceptionally good technique, very good speed and a great body,” said Kovac of the Euro 2016 winner with Portugal.
“It’s true that people fly off him left and right — just like they used to do with Lothar Matthaeus.
“I’m delighted for Renato – I said yesterday that he was excellent in pre-season and it wouldn’t be long before he plays.
“I wanted him to score two, but he only managed one,” he added with a grin.
Sanches deservedly revelled in the praise at Benfica after two disappointing years, first warming the bench at Bayern and then last season on loan at Swansea, but is now thriving under Kovac.
Matthaeus, who captained Germany to the 1990 World Cup title, led the plaudits for the burly youngster.
“These are the kind of stories that football writes. He looks in shape and crowned his performance with a goal,” said the Sky pundit.
“It was a great gesture from the Benfica fans,” Matthaeus added referring to the home crowd’s standing ovation.
Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge later singled out Sanches during his traditional speech at the post-match banquet.
“Renato did not have such an easy time with us, and also at Swansea, but you took the chance brilliantly — you deserve it,” said the Bayern boss, to loud applause.
200+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
- Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
- Price: $35/mo. for Sling Blue
- Watch Premier League, World Cup & MLS
- Includes USA, NBC, FOX, FS1 + more
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
- Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
- Price: $4.99/mo
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
- Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more
- Holders Wydad Casablanca among 58 CAF Champions League hopefuls
- 2022/23 LaLiga prediction: What will the final table look like?
- African players in Europe: Salah, Mane score as season starts
- Three talking points from the Premier League’s opening weekend
- Former Man Utd star Giggs goes on trial for assault
- Marseille win Ligue 1 season opener, Ramsey scores on Nice debut
- Lewandowski scores first Barcelona goal in Pumas rout
- Sundowns start season as they ended the last by topping table
- Haaland warns Premier League much more to come after dream debut
- RB Leipzig held at Stuttgart, Cologne defeat 10-man Schalke