'World's best' Robert Lewandowski bags Champions League hat-trick for Bayern - in pictures

German giants crush Benfica as Polish striker makes 100th appearance in competition

Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann called Robert Lewandowski the world's best forward after he scored a hat-trick in the 5-2 Champions League demolition of Benfica.

On his 100th appearance in Europe's top club competition, Lewandowski's treble made it 81 goals and counting as Bayern cruised into the knockout stage with two matches to spare.

Lewandowski was named the 2020 World Player of the Year, beating off competition from six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo.

When asked to compare the three, Nagelsmann said: "I think it's very difficult because they are different types of players.

"I think all three were very impressive players over the last few years. I believe that Lewy can achieve a lot, also at an older age, because of his physique, lifestyle and the way he lives as a footballer.

"He will continue to be the best forward in the world because he does everything to keep it that way."

Nagelsmann said people would be talking about Lewandowski's hat-trick but what caught his eye was the "joy" the 33-year-old was playing with in the last half hour.

"He played in every offensive position, wanted to have every ball. He started good attacks. He always wants to score more goals," he added.

"His numbers are impressive. Well, we are now aiming for him to score 100 Champions League goals. Maybe not this year, this will be a tight one. But he will achieve this hopefully."

Lewandowski headed home his first goal in the 26th minute and chipped in another just past the hour after also setting up Serge Gnabry for a sensational backheel flick in the 32nd minute.

He did miss a penalty in first-half stoppage time but sealed his treble in the 85th minute.

"I do not know if it was the perfect game because I did miss a penalty," Lewandowski said. "But better to miss early than late in the game. Luckily we scored several more goals and got the three points.

"I did not get the ball often in the first 20 minutes but you have to stay patient as a striker. To be honest I never thought I would ever play so many games in the Champions League and score so many goals."

Poland striker Lewandowski has scored 22 goals in 18 games for Bayern this season - including eight in four in the Champions League.

Bayern, who have won all four games and scored a joint-record 17 goals at this stage, are six points above second-placed Barcelona while Benfica are third on four points.

Updated: November 3rd 2021, 7:42 AM