#Bayern Munich put five past an under-par #Arsenal side on a miserable night for the visitors to the Allianz Stadium, who had only Alexis Sanchez’s neat strike to show for their efforts in the first leg of their #Champions League last-16 tie. The German giants, who had defeated Arsenal at this stage of the competition twice in the past five years, were dominant from the start and, barring a monumental comeback in the return fixture, will be in familiar territory with a quarter-final place almost secured.
For Arsenal it looks like more disappointment in the Champions League, having exited the tournament at this stage for six successive seasons prior to this one, with Barcelona (twice), Milan and Monaco previously proving too much for Arsenal.
Arjen Robben gave the home side the lead but they were pegged back by Sanchez’s equaliser in the 30th minute. But second half goals courtesy of Robert Lewandowski, two for Thiago Alcantara and a late fifth from Thomas Muller gave the scoreline a very one-sided appearance.
Arsenal short on ideas
Manager Arsene Wenger cut a frustrated figure on the touchline, the Frenchman remonstrating with the fourth official after a decision to award the Gunners a corner was overturned by the referee as Arsenal grew increasingly frustrated by events on the pitch in Germany. Robben’s sumptuous 11th minute curled strike gave Bayern a lead their early possession deserved and they threatened to take control of the game with further chances falling their way.
Arsenal hung in there though and got a foothold in the contest when they were presented with the chance to level from the penalty spot. Bayern’s Lewandowski was adjudged to have pushed Laurent Koscielny and a golden opportunity to equalise arrived. Manuel Neuer kept the spot kick out but he was powerless to stop Sanchez, who brushed off that disappointment with lightning quick feet and a turn in the box before firing the ball back across goal and into the net.
Down at the other end, Bayern appealed for a penalty of their own for a Hector Bellerin handball but referee Milorad Mazic deemed it to not be deliberate and Arsenal went into halftime level and confidence up.
Bayern turn on the style
But their second half display drained all the optimism from Arsenal fans and even the most optimistic fan would suggest that Bayern have made a second leg comeback an impossible dream.
Bayern striker Lewandowski restored their lead after 53 minutes, getting his head on Phillip Lahm’s inch-perfect cross and rising above Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi to head the ball in. Just three minutes later, Thiago made it 3-1, Lewandowski turning provider with a smart touch into his teammate’s path and the Spaniard did the rest, adding to Arsenal’s problems with a third goal. And a matter in minutes later, Thiago was involved in a fourth goal for the home side, his shot from the edge of a crowded penalty area deflecting past a wrong-footed David Ospina in the Arsenal goal.
For Arsenal by now it was damage limitation but they couldn’t avoid a fifth and final goal nestling in the back of their net in the 88th minute. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was robbed by midfielder Joshua Kimmich who played it to Thomas Muller and, after a cheeky dummy, rifled a low strike into the bottom corner of Ospina’s goal.
What next for Arsenal
For Wenger and Arsenal it was a disappointing night to say the least and they will hope to bounce back against non-league Sutton United in the FA Cup, with all the thoughts of avoiding being victims of a giant killing, before focusing on qualifying for this competition again next season.
After this result, though, like their title bid, their Champions League hopes are all but over for another season.