After a comfortable 5-1 home win in the first leg of this Champions League round of 16, everyone expected the return leg in London to be a mere formality for FC Bayern Munich. But Arsenal’s strong effort and a quick goal gave the Gunners hope, only to be extinguished by their captain’s red card in the 2nd half. That’s when the wheels came off.
Arsenal’s high pressure forces Bayern errors
Bayern began in their usual fashion, controlling the ball for the first ten minutes, albeit without a real chance on goal, in what was expected to be an easy day at the office for the visitors from Munich. Arsenal had other plans, with Arsene Wenger’s men putting on a high press, causing Bayern to lose their usual calm on the ball, and forcing them into errors all over the field. The resulting counter attacks were dangerous, and had the Germans scrambling for some control.
The first warning shot came from a through ball to Theo Walcott in the 11th minute, who was thwarted by a poor first touch, and sweeper-keeper Manuel Neuer clearing the ball outside of the box. Two minutes later, Olivier Giroud grazed the outside of the post on a header for the next chance.
In the 20th minute, Walcott finally breathed some life (and hope) into the Gunners, managing to roof a tight angle shot over Neuer for a 1-0 lead. The Emirates came alive, with Gunners fans sensing a possibility of mounting a historic comeback. An appeal for a penalty kick in the 33rd minute, when Walcott went down a tad easy, fell on deaf ears with the Greek referee (correctly, as it turned out). Two minutes later, Walcott, easily the most dangerous player on the host’s side, found himself in almost the exact same position as when he scored the goal, but only managed to hit the outside of the net this time.
Red card for Koscielny, PK, snuffs out all hope, Bayern cruise to victory
Arsenal came out exactly as they had finished the first half, pressuring Bayern high, causing the guests to boot the ball out of the back, but didn’t result in any convincing attempts on Manuel Neuer’s net.
The entire match was turned on its head when Arsenal’s captain, Laurent Koscielny, could only stop Robert Lewandowski with a foul in the box in the 53rd minute. The penalty kick was given, but the initial yellow card to the defender was changed to a straight red, after the referee consulted with the endline official, deeming it a clear goal scoring opportunity. The converted PK, taken by none other than Lewandowski himself, along with having to play a man down for the remaining 35 minutes, killed Arsenal’s spirit and the game.
Not surprisingly, the wheels came off the Gunners after the huge emotional letdown, with Robben scoring on an Arsenal defensive turnover in the 68th minute. Shortly thereafter, Wenger raised the white flag of defeat, opting to use all three of his substitutions in the 72nd. What followed was an all-out assault on David Ospina’s goal, with Douglas Costa marking the 3rd goal, and Arturo Vidal finishing everything off with a brace in a span of five minutes in the 80th and 85th minutes.
FC Bayern are through to the quarterfinals of the competition for a record sixth straight time, and will anxiously await the draw on March 17th that will determine their next opponent.
Goals: Arsenal 1 – Bayern 5
Arsenal: Walcott (20’)
Bayern: Lewandowski (55’, PK), Robben (68’), Costa (78’), Vidal (80’, 85’)
Arsenal: Walcott (39’), Oxlade-Chamberlain (61’)
Bayern: Alaba (39’), Martinez (44’)
Arsenal: Koscielny (53’)
Arsenal XI: Ospina - Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal - Ramsey (Coquelin, 72’), Xhaka - Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sanchez (Perez, 72’) - Giroud (Özil, 72’)
Bayern XI: Neuer – Rafinha, Martinez, Hummels, Alaba – Alonso, Vidal – Robben (Costa, 70’), Thiago (sanches, 79’), Ribery (Kimmich, 79’) - Lewandowski