Arsene Wenger was handed an early birthday present on Tuesday night, when Arsenal beat Bayern Munich 2-0 to kick start their #Champions League campaign.

Both teams started at a high tempo, with Bayern playing a patient passing game and #Arsenal happy to counter attack.

Despite Bayern's early possession, it was Arsenal that landed the first blow, when Mehmet Ozil went close in the 7th minute.  Bayern hit back four minutes later with a shot from Thiago, which Petr Cech saved.

The game maintained this high tempo for the remainder of the half.  Bayern dominated possession, but failed to carve out a clear cut chance.  Walcott had a shot saved in the 22nd minute, but it wasn't until the 33rd minute that the half's best opportunity came.

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Great Champions League moment

Theo Walcott, whose pace had been terrorising the Bayern defence, found himself unmarked in the box. He looked a certainty to score.  Then came one of those moments that you remember for years to come.

Manuel Neuer made an astonishing save from point blank range.  Reacting superbly, he flung himself to his left to claw the ball away.  Almost on a par with Peter Schmeichel's 1996 save against Rapid Vienna, this was one of the great Champion's League moments.

The start of the second half was almost a carbon copy of the first.  The first fifteen minutes were played entirely in the Arsenal half.  However, the Arsenal defence held out, restricting their opponents to long range shots.

The excellent Costa had a good attempt on 50 minutes, as did Lewandovski four minutes later.  On another night, both would have found the back of the net.  For some reason, Bayern Munich, and Lewandowski in particular, were off song.  On 56 minutes, Aaron Ramsey pulled a hamstring and was replaced by Alex Oxlaide Chamberlain. 

Bayern domination continued for the next twenty minutes.

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As always, Arsenal looked as good as anyone with the ball.  The problem was, they couldn't get enough of it.  When German passes started to go astray and the ball went sideways instead of forwards, one started to get the feeling that it would be Arsenal's night.

With sixteen minutes left, Giroud replaced Walcott, who, having been starved of service, had been ineffective throughout the second half.  The extra physical presence Giroud provided made an immediate impact.

Just two minutes later, Arsenal were awarded a free kick, which was whipped into the area.  Following a knock down, super sub Giroud dived to put the ball into the German's net. The goal stood, despite the suggestion of hand ball.

The stats say it all.  Approaching the 80th minute, Bayern had enjoyed 70% possession and completed 600 passes.  Over three times more than their opponents.

Late Drama

There was still some drama left to come.  In the 93rd minute, Neuer made another unbelievable save from Ozil and play continued.  The referee then adjudged the ball to have crossed the line and so awarded the second goal.

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With his 66th birthday in two days’ time, Arsene Wenger will be in a position to celebrate a little more freely following this result.  Whilst Arsenal were never quite hanging on, it was evident that the better side was playing in black.

Now all Arsenal have to do is get a similar result in Germany.

 

 

 

  #Football