Ribery deserved goal as reward for hard work, says Kovac

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The under-fire manager said "everything was on song" in Bayern Munich's 5-1 win over Benfica and singled out the veteran winger for praise.

Franck Ribery's first goal of the season was a deserved reward for his unselfish play this season according to Niko Kovac, who singled the Frenchman out for praise after his performance in Bayern Munich's 5-1 win over Benfica.

Ribery scored Bayern's fifth goal in a resounding victory that confirmed the Bavarians' place in the last 16 of the Champions League, while Benfica's hopes of progressing from Group E were ended.

On a night when Arjen Robben and Robert Lewandowski scored two goals each, Bayern head coach Kovac praised the contribution of 35-year-old winger Ribery in particular.

"He was finally able to reward himself," Kovac told reporters.

"Franck works very hard on the pitch and brings his team-mates into the game.

"Today he scored, and he earned that."

The German champions went into the game reeling from a 3-3 draw with Fortuna Dusseldorf that left them fifth in the Bundesliga, nine points behind league leaders Borussia Dortmund.

But Robben scored twice inside 30 minutes and there were no signs of nerves from the home side as they brushed their opponents aside.

Kovac summed up the performance, saying: "Everything was on song.

"We defended well and took our chances at the other end.

"We finally managed to maintain a high performance level throughout the full 90 minutes.

"It may sound strange, but when we play in the Champions League or in the big league games, you can see that my team is capable, but when we come up against the slightly smaller teams, we sometimes don't play to our full strengths.

"We need to play to our best for 90 minutes, as we did today."

Benfica head coach Rui Vitoria, whose side will drop into the Europa League following their final Group E match against AEK Athens, admitted his defence came up short against Bayern.

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"We weren't good," he said, "We didn't implement our strategy well.

"A lot of that is due to Bayern, who were superior. They are one of the biggest teams in Europe.

"We needed to be more organised in defence and quicker in our attacks, but we didn't manage that."

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