Kovac hails Coutinho: He's brought another dimension to Bayern

By Sports Desk September 18, 2019

Niko Kovac believes Philippe Coutinho has brought "another dimension" to Bayern Munich after he impressed in their Champions League win over Red Star Belgrade.

Kingsley Coman, Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller goals earned Bayern a 3-0 victory over Red Star in the German giants' Group B opener.

However, it was Coutinho – on loan from LaLiga champions Barcelona with a view to a permanent move – who particularly caught the eye pulling the strings in Munich midweek.

"He played a really good game and with his football intelligence he brings another dimension to our game," Bayern head coach Kovac told Sky in Germany.

"I think we can be very happy. The team has been very focused and we scored three goals, that's befitting."

Muller came off the bench to make a club record 106th appearance in the Champions League for Bayern, but he played down its significance.

Muller said: "Such game records are something for after the career, and I'm not going to give up my shoes up in the near future, so it's not that important."

Red Star captain Marko Marin came agonisingly close to an equaliser before Lewandowski and Muller's strikes late on, and the 30-year-old attacker insisted the result was not a fair reflection of the game.

"We saw that Bayern are on another level," Marin said. We could have scored from our chances. They deserved a win but not the last two goals, they hurt the most. 

"Let's not forget that this is our first group match and playing away, so I hope that we will make up against Olympiacos."

Olympiacos held Tottenham to a 2-2 draw in the group's other game and head coach Vladan Milojevic added: "As I said before the match, Bayern and Tottenham are the favourites in the group, and we saw why tonight. We are aware that we played against a possible winner of the Champions League." 

Related items

  • Czech Republic 2-3 Northern Ireland: McNair shines in friendly thriller Czech Republic 2-3 Northern Ireland: McNair shines in friendly thriller

    Paddy McNair scored twice as Northern Ireland's sublime first-half showing was enough to earn a thrilling 3-2 win over the Czech Republic on Monday.

    Michael O'Neill's side suffered a disappointing Euro 2020 qualifying defeat to Netherlands on Thursday but bounced back in style with a superb opening 45 minutes.

    McNair got them on their way with a fine finish in the ninth minute before Jonny Evans doubled the advantage midway through the opening period.

    The impressive McNair scored a second five minutes prior to the break before the hosts set up a tense finale with two goals in as many minutes from Vladimir Darida and Alex Kral in the second half, but the away side saw out the win.

    The visitors started with a spring in their step and powered into a ninth-minute lead.

    Liam Boyce's pass from the left wing found McNair on the edge of the penalty area and the Middlesbrough midfielder took a touch past Ladislav Krejci before slotting into the bottom-right corner.

    They deservedly doubled their advantage midway through the first half when Evans reacted quickly after a goalmouth scramble from a corner to scoop home his fourth international goal.

    McNair then scored his second after 40 minutes, latching onto Steven Davis' throughball before rounding the onrushing Jiri Pavlenka and slotting into an empty net.

    The hosts improved markedly after the restart and reduced the deficit with quick-fire goals in the 67th and 68th minutes.

    First, Darida crashed an effort into the roof of the net from Zdenek Ondrasek's lay-off before Kral superbly whipped into the bottom corner from 18 yards after turning inside Craig Cathcart.

    The resurgent hosts did most of the pressing in the closing stages – Ondrasek rightly seeing a goal ruled out in stoppage time after he had bundled the ball out of Michael McGovern's hands – but Northern Ireland ultimately held on for an impressive win on the road.

    What does it mean? First-half blitz too much for hosts

    O'Neill said this game could be good practice ahead of a potential Euro 2020 play-off and he will be delighted with the way his side went about their business inside the opening 45 minutes. He will be less pleased with the way they lost focus in the second half, allowing the Czech Republic to get back into the game courtesy of some sloppy defending. 

    McNair makes his mark

    After scarcely featuring for Middlesbrough last season, the 24-year-old is very much back in favour this campaign, starting every game for the Championship side. That is bearing fruit for his country, with the former Manchester United man scoring two fine goals in what was a superb display at the heart of the Northern Ireland midfield.

    Simic run ragged by visitors

    Making just his second appearance for his country, Stefan Simic endured a game to forget. He was consistently out of position during a torrid opening 45 minutes and suffered the ignominy of being hauled off at the break.

    What's next?

    The Czech Republic round off their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with Group A games against Kosovo and Bulgaria next month, while Northern Ireland face a daunting double-header against Netherlands and Germany.

  • Tottenham re-sign Vorm as cover for injured Lloris Tottenham re-sign Vorm as cover for injured Lloris

    Tottenham have re-signed free agent goalkeeper Michel Vorm on a short-term deal to provide cover for injured skipper Hugo Lloris.

    The 35-year-old had been without a club since being released by Tottenham when his contract expired at the end of last season.

    However, with Lloris out for the rest of 2019 with an elbow injury sustained in the 3-0 defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion on October 5, the Premier League side have moved to bring in Vorm until the end of the season.

    Ex-Netherlands international Vorm, who made 47 appearances in all competitions for Tottenham during his previous five-season spell in north London, has again been assigned squad number 13.

    He will likely act as back-up to Paulo Gazzaniga when Mauricio Pochettino's side return to action with a home match against Watford next Saturday.

  • PSG star Neymar expected to miss four weeks with hamstring injury PSG star Neymar expected to miss four weeks with hamstring injury

    Neymar is expected to be out for four weeks after the Paris Saint-Germain star suffered a hamstring injury on international duty.

    The Brazil forward was withdrawn in the 12th minute of the Selecao's 1-1 friendly draw with Nigeria on Sunday.

    PSG announced Neymar had an MRI scan on Monday that confirmed the injury, which will be re-evaluated in eight days.

    Neymar has played just five games for PSG this season owing to an ankle injury picked up in June.

    The ex-Barcelona forward did not make his first appearance until September, having attempted to force a move away from the club he joined for a world-record €222million fee in 2017.

    He was booed by the home fans on his return to the side in a 1-0 victory over Strasbourg, in which he scored a spectacular overhead kick winner.

    The 27-year-old has four goals in his five games for Thomas Tuchel's men, who have a two-point lead in Ligue 1 and have two wins from two in the Champions League.

    Speaking after the stalemate with the Super Eagles, Brazil coach Tite said Neymar was not a pre-match injury risk.

    "It would be irresponsible and incompetent of me [to play him if he was a doubt]," Tite explained.

    "I would have to receive the complaints of the coach and the president of PSG if that happened."

    Neymar posted an image on his Instagram story of him back in Paris and receiving treatment for the injury.

    The length of Neymar's absence means he is likely to miss two Champions League games with Club Brugge and Ligue 1 matches with Nice, Marseille, Dijon and Brest.

    In the same announcement, PSG said Kylian Mbappe is “positively following his recovery programme” after missing the game against Angers last time out.

    Edinson Cavani, who has been out since August with a hip issue, continues training with the squad.

    Julian Draxler (foot) and Colin Dagba (thigh) have returned to training.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.