LISBON, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Bayern Munich midfielder Renato Sanches made a memorable return to former club Benfica Lisbon, scoring once and helping set up the other goal in the Germans’ 2-0 Champions League Group E opening win on Wednesday.
The 21-year-old Benfica youth product, who joined Bayern in 2016 but hardly played before being loaned out to Swansea City last season, earned a rare start due to the injury of Thiago Alcantara.
He made the most of his chance as Bayern cruised to a comfortable victory despite a string of injury absences that also include World Cup winner Corentin Tolisso, Kingsley Coman and Rafinha.
Talented and lightning-quick, Portugal international Sanches emerged as a teenaged sensation following their Euro 2016 victory, but Bayern fans had seen little of his abilities until Wednesday.
The Bundesliga leaders, who have won all their competitive matches so far this season, opened their account after 10 minutes when Sanches sent Franck Ribery down the wing.
The Frenchman charged through and Robert Lewandowski completed the move with a fine turn.
Benfica, who have not scored more than once in their last 10 Champions League matches on home soil, had to wait almost half an hour for their own first chance, a header that was deflected wide.
Sanches then picked up where he had left off before the break and with a sensational 40-metre sprint launched a quick Bayern move that he finished off with a tap-in as the entire stadium gave him a standing ovation.
Bayern, who saw midfielder Thomas Mueller become only the third German player to reach 100 Champions League matches, next host Ajax in Munich on Oct. 2. (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Pritha Sarkar)