Brenden Aaronson provided the lone bright spot for RB Salzburg on Tuesday evening, as they were brutally dumped from the Champions League Round of 16 by a clinical FC Bayern.
FC Bayern 7 – 1 RB Salzburg (agg. 8-2)
Even with the first leg having ended on even terms, Aaronson and the Salzburgers would have needed an unprecedented miracle in Bayern’s Allianz Arena, however loss this lopsided would not have been expected under any circumstances.
After resting up in Salzburg’s weekend Bundesliga game, the budding American starlet started as the main playmaker behind the front pairing of Chukwubuike Adamu and Karim Adeyemi.
As would be expected, Bayern held the lion’s share of possession – 72% to be precise – and dictated the flow of the game from start to finish. Overall, Aaronson had one of the better outings for the visitors, given the difficult situation, completing 22 of 28 passes amidst 44 total touches and serving up the assist in impressive fashion for Salzburg’s lone goal of the game.
The Austrians held tight in the opening minutes, conceding possession but doing well to thwart the Bavarians in front of goal, until the flood gates opened in the 12 minute.
Polish striker Robert Lewandowski, who still seems to be taking out his aggression on helpless opponents for his recent Ballon d’Or snub, netted a hat-trick in the space of 11 minutes.
His first two came from the spot in the 12th and 21st minutes, respectively, with Salzburg defender Maximilian Wöber being the culprit on both occasions. Lewandowski then completed his hat-trick in style in the 23rd minute, after Salzburg keeper Philipp Köhn came off his line to deal with a through-ball from Thomas Müller.
The Polish superstar arrived first and sent a high deflection behind hte keeper and towards goal, which he tapped in from close-range.
Things went from bad to worse just past the half-hour, after Kingsley Coman set up Serge Gnabry on the right for a low shot to the near post, giving Bayern the commanding 4-0 lead heading into the halftime break.
The spanking continued in the second half, with Leroy Sané dropping a short pass to Thomas Müller at the top of the area in the 54th minute. Müller controlled possession, made his turn and fired his shot between several defenders for the Bavarians’ fifth of the night.
Aaronson was the catalyst for Salzburg’s lone goal of the game, which came in the 70th minute. Receiving the ball deep in his own half, the American stormed forward, blowing past Bayern substitute Tanguy Nianzou and drawing a trio of defenders his way as he approached their area.
This left Maurits Kjaergaard completely free just left of center to receive the American’s pass, settle the ball with a couple touches and blast it past Manuel Neuer to rob the German keeper of a clean sheet.
After that short bright spot, the Bavarians returned to business, with Müller netting a second with a sweeping shot from the center of the area in the 83rd minute, then Sané striking a narrow-angle shot from the left to put the final exclamation point on the 7-1 victory.
Now out of European competition, Aaronson and his teammates will return to their usual program of easily winning the domestic double in Austria. They host Sturm Graz in league play on Sunday, then visit Wolfsberger AC three days later for the semifinal of the Austrian Cup.
Zack Steffen has been injured for several weeks for Manchester City, and is unlikely to be in uniform on Wednesday evening when they go through the motions of protecting their 5-0 first-leg lead against visiting Sporting Lisbon.