Bayern’s smash and Gnabry leaves Tottenham wondering what hit them

Robert Lewandowski grabs two as Spurs suffer worst home defeat in Europe

Serge Gnabry scores  Bayern Munich’s third goal during the Champions League Group B match against Tottenham Hotspur at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.  Photograph:  Julian Finney/Getty Images

Serge Gnabry scores Bayern Munich’s third goal during the Champions League Group B match against Tottenham Hotspur at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

 

Tottenham Hotspur 2 Bayern Munich 7

There were 55 minutes on the stadium clock and a look of pure bewilderment on the faces of Tottenham’s defenders. They had just been shredded for the second time in three minutes by Serge Gnabry, Bayern Munich’s former Arsenal winger and, despite having carried the fight to the Bundesliga champions, they could stare at an irretrievable 4-1 deficit.

The London club had craved a victory to ignite what has been a stuttering season so far and it had been possible to find plus points in their attacking performance in the first half. Yet they had no answer to Bayern’s ruthlessness in the final third, which was embossed by Gnabry, who has developed into a star since leaving the Premier League.

This was Gnabry’s night and he finished it with an incredible four goals, as Spurs wilted shamefully in the closing stages. For the hat-trick, he raced away from Jan Vertonghen to collect a wonderful long ball from the substitute, Thiago Alcântara. He needed only two touches before he swept past Hugo Lloris and, with Spurs broken, Robert Lewandowski added Bayern’s sixth before Gnabry twisted the knife with the seventh.

Lewandowski had turned the tie around just before half-time but that was merely the beginning of the pain for Spurs, who have been left with only one point in Champions League Group B and everything to do in order to reach the knock-out rounds for the third season in succession. There were boos from the home crowd at the end and the scars from this humiliation will take time to heal.

Mauricio Pochettino has wanted to see a return to the high-tempo pressing game that has characterised much of his reign and his players were in the mood at the outset; squeezing Bayern, rattling them and forcing them to parry punches. It was no surprise when Son Heung-min put them in front, having gone close on two occasions in the early running.

A view of the giant screen and scoreboard during the Champions League Group B match between Tottenham Hotspur and Bayern Munich. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA
A view of the giant screen and scoreboard during the Champions League Group B match between Tottenham Hotspur and Bayern Munich. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

Tanguy Ndombele laid on both openings with lovely slide-rule passes. The most notable thing about Ndombele’s game is that he always looks to pass or drive forwards, never sideways. Son’s first chance was the clearer one but he could not beat Manuel Neuer, when he ought to have done. He would make amends.

Dele Alli led the Spurs press, hustling Corentin Tolisso, who went down and wanted a foul. There was not enough in it. This time, Moussa Sissoko provided the incision with the pass and Son’s low finish had too much on it for Neuer. The goalkeeper got a hand to it but could only push the ball into the far corner. Like Ndombele, Sissoko was a marauding presence.

Back came Bayern, who had already threatened when Toby Alderweireld slipped and Gnabry put a second-minute shot too close to Lloris. The equaliser was a beauty, showcasing the talent and vision of Joshua Kimmich, who started in his preferred midfield role, before being switched to right back at half-time.

Lewandowski brought down a Kingsley Coman cross and looked for a pass inside the area only for Vertonghen to clear. It broke for Kimmich on the edge of the area, who stepped away from Ndombele too easily and unfurled a precision shot which bent into Lloris’s bottom corner.

The rain gave a slickness to the pitch and, with the floodlights burning and the atmosphere pulsating, it was quite the scene. Tottenham had needed something after the 2-2 draw at Olympiakos two weeks ago and it was certainly a night when they had to bring their very best. The quality on display in all areas was extremely easy on the eye.

Spurs had first-half chances. Harry Kane rounded Neuer only for David Alaba to clear while Ndombele was denied by Neuer after Kane’s fine crossfield ball and Serge Aurier’s clever pull-back. And yet they trailed at the interval which, if nothing else, highlighted the slender nature of the margins at this level.

Lewandowski made the opening when he tricked past Harry Winks on the byline and, after Tolisso appealed in vain for a penalty following a challenge from Aurier, the Bayern midfielder won the ball back as he lay on the ground. Re-enter Lewandowski. He took a touch, spun and, from the edge of the area, fizzed a low shot into the corner.

Gnabry’s first two goals were devastating and the manner of his first, in particular, took the breath away. He blasted away from Aurier’s slide challenge and, in what felt like the blink of an eye, he had cut inside Alderweireld and buried his shot into the far corner. His second came after Tolisso robbed Winks as Spurs tried to play out from the back. Again the finish was lethal.

Kane’s penalty after Coman had caught Danny Rose gave Spurs hope and, at that point, they believed they could fight back to equalise. Sissoko and the substitute Christian Eriksen went close. Bayern, though, were far from finished. – Guardian

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