Bayern Munich through to quarter-finals

The defending champions could afford penalty miss as they win Champions League tie 3-1 on aggregate against Arsenal

Bayern Munich’s Bastian Schweinsteiger (R) celebrates with Mario Goetze after scoring a goal against Arsenal during their Champions League round of 16 second leg soccer match in Munich. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Bayern Munich’s Bastian Schweinsteiger (R) celebrates with Mario Goetze after scoring a goal against Arsenal during their Champions League round of 16 second leg soccer match in Munich. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

 

Bayern Munich 1 Arsenal 1 (Bayern win 3-1 on aggregate)

Ultimately, the task was too much for Arsenal. They held their own against the five-time champions but the damage inflicted in the first leg always looked too grievous and there was never any part of the night when Bayern’s place in the quarter-finals looked vulnerable.

Pep Guardiola’s side controlled large parts of the match and the coach will probably reflect that the evening should have been even more stress-free considering Lukasz Fabianski’s penalty save from Thomas Müller in stoppage time and the controversy surrounding Lukas Podolski’s equaliser for Arsenal.

Bastian Schweinsteiger had opened the scoring two minutes earlier and Bayern quickly set about re-establishing their authority after the jolt of Podolski’s goal.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was outstanding for Arsenal and, in defence, Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny reminded us what an accomplished centre-half pairing they can be. Yet Arsène Wenger’s side never worked up a head of steam in the opposition half.

Manuel Neuer did not have to make a noteworthy save in the last half an hour and Fabianski’s dive to keep out Müller, after Arjen Robben had coaxed a foul from Koscielny, was largely inconsequential.

The harsh reality for Arsenal was they never came close to pulling off one of the great nights of their modern era.

It says everything about Bayern that Müller and Toni Kroos, the scorers of their goals at the Emirates, started on the bench. Arsenal, in stark contrast, fielded only six substitutes and had to confess to bringing Ryo Miyaichi out to Munich without realising he was ineligible.

Fortunate
They were fortunate they realised their mistake, rather than including him and then facing the recriminations that would have followed from Uefa.

But it was still the kind of error that can make a club look daft in the extreme.

Throw in Manuel Pellegrini’s mathematical oversight here in the group stages with Manchester City and we can only guess what Bayern, with their attention to detail, must make of the preparation of English clubs.

Arsenal, to give them their due, set about their night’s work with considerable assurance. They had to withstand long spells of pressure but there were only fleeting moments in the opening half when Fabianski’s goal was seriously threatened.

Arjen Robben could not direct the first good chance of the night on target and, before half-time, had also seen a goal-bound effort cleared by Koscielny, just a couple of yards off his goal-line.

Javi Martínez’s volley was ruled out for offside after Thiago Alcântara’s free-kick into the penalty area, and there were other opportunities for Mario Götze and Mario Mandzukic.

Yet Arsenal, defending in numbers, held out reasonably comfortably in the opening 45 minutes and had a couple of half-chances of their own, most notably Olivier Giroud’s header from a Mesut Özil corner.

Wenger’s thinking could be gauged by the fact he had left out Mathieu Flamini for the more attack-minded Oxlade-Chamberlain in the centre of midfield. Yet there was no sense of gung-ho early on.

Arsenal knocked the ball around nicely, with Oxlade-Chamberlain always willing to run at the Bayern defence and showing no awe of these surroundings. For the most part, however, they played with a certain amount of restraint in the opening stages.

Greater ambition
What Arsenal needed after the interval was more momentum in attack. They now needed to show greater ambition and ask more questions of their opponents. More than anything, they needed Giroud to hold the ball with more distinction, allowing other players to break beyond him.

Instead, Bayern started the second half with a greater sense of adventure. Robben was increasingly finding space, albeit tarnishing his performance with a shameless dive to try to win a penalty.

Then Franck Ribery collected the ball on the left and darted inside the penalty area. Bacary Sagna was beaten too easily and Santi Cazorla had not tracked Bastian Schweinsteiger’s run.

Ribery’s pass was measured perfectly and Schweinsteiger was suddenly free, six yards out, with the time and space to pick his spot.

What followed was extraordinary, particularly bearing in mind Wenger’s pre-match comments about the Norwegian referee, Svein Oddvar Moen. Giroud played a one-two with Podolski but Philipp Lahm was wise to it and looked completely in control.

Podolski, with little subtlety, simply knocked him to the ground and turned towards goal while everyone waited for the whistle.

Displeasure
As the crowd howled its displeasure, Podolski sized up Manuel Neuer’s position and lashed his shot into the roof of the net.

It was disappointing Arsenal could not build on their good fortune. Özil had gone off after an undistinguished first half, citing an injury, but he was not the only attacking player among Wenger’s team to struggle. Bayern strolled to the finish and, for the fourth year running, Arsenal have been eliminated at the same stage.
Guardian Service


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