Starting XI: Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Gibbs, Xhaka, Coquelin, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Iwobi, Alexis
Subs: Cech, Gabriel, Monreal, Elneny, Walcott, Welbeck, Giroud
Bayern Munich humbled Arsenal in the first leg of the Champions League knockout clash at the Allianz Arena as goals from Arjen Robben, Robert Lewandowski, a brace by Thiago and Thomas Muller sealed a 5-1 win.
The Gunners had made it to half time on level terms after Alexis Sanchez made amends for a penalty miss by converting the rebound, however, their second half collapse leaves them with a mountain to climb when the two sides meet at the Emirates in two weeks time. By a mountain, think Everest in bare feet, carrying a bag of rocks.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side may have garnered criticism for their recent performances in the Bundesliga – you know, what with ONLY being seven points clear at the top at the moment – but as five-time winners of the Champions League and with 15 consecutive wins at home in the tournament Bayern weren’t suffering any nerves in the early stages.
The home side stroked the ball around crisply, dominating possession and pushing the Gunners onto the back foot. Wenger’s men knew they needed to close down the midfield in packs, but that is easier said than done against quality opposition.
Vidal’s drive from 20-yards signaled the end of the first phase of probing. From their next opportunity, the Germans weren’t to be so forgiving.
11 minutes were on the clock when Arjen Robben, so often the scourge of the Gunners, cut in from the right, opened up his body and curled home with his left foot into the top corner. It was a fine effort but Francis Coquelin’s failure to close down the Dutchman was criminal. (1-0)
Buoyed by the goal, the men in red forced Arsenal deeper and deeper into their own half. Robben twice more cut in from the right attempting efforts.
Arsene Wenger’s men struggled to keep the ball on the rare occasions they won it back until an Alexis charge on 25 minutes drew a foul and booking from Matts Hummels on the edge of the box. Ozil’s free-kick was tepid, Manuel Neuer fumbled, the ball went just wide.
The Gunners found their mojo, pressing higher up the pitch and when a short corner was fed into the box by Alexis, a penalty was awarded for a foul on Laurent Koscielny by a clumsy Robert Lewandowski.
Alexis stepped up to plate. There was a delay, he hesitated, missed but somehow collected the rebound under pressure from four defenders, spun and slipped the ball home. A very important away goal. (1-1)
After that the chances flowed at both ends. Lewandowski, twice, and Hummels headed off target. At the other end, Xhaka’s fierce volley from a speedy Gunners break was straight at Neuer. In stoppage time, Ozil then tested his compatriot again as he shot low.
There was a double injury worry for the Gunners at the start of the second half as Laurent Koscielny tweaked his hamstring and Ospina fell awkwardly on his shoulder under pressure from David Alaba. The Frenchman was replaced by Gabriel while the Colombian required lengthy treatment. Kieran Gibbs was handed the captain’s armband.
Not long after the defensive reshuffle Lewandowski restored Bayern’s lead. The Poland international hung in the air above Shkodran Mustafi to head home Philip Lahm’s cross past a stranded Ospina. (2-1)
Arsenal’s resistance crumbled. Three minutes later an Alonso pass into Lewandowski was flicked around the corner by the Pole for Thiago to run onto and finish first time. (3-1)
Lewandowski, Robben and Martinez might have added a fourth as Bayern tightened the screw. Eventually, Thiago did find the back of the net again via an almighty deflection off Granit Xhaka that left Ospina on his arse. (4-1)
As his teammates chased shadows, Ospina made superb stops from Vidal and Costa to keep the score down. He tried his best, but there was nothing the Colombian could do when Chamberlain pressed the self-destruct button on the edge of his own box. Thomas Muller, with his first touches of the ball, killed the game dead with Bayern’s fifth. (5-1)