UCL: Arsenal 0-2 Bayern Munich
Wednesday 19 February 2014
Arsenal started the game in blistering fashion, but record signing Mesut Ozil missed from the spot, after a fantastic piece of skill won them a penalty. Wojciech Szczesny was sent off for fouling Robben and – even though Alaba also missed his spot kick – the sending off proved crucial as the Gunners went down to a two goal defeat against the reigning, defending Champions.
The holders could have taken an early lead when the outstanding Toni Kroos fired a wonderful effort on goal from 20 yards, bringing a great save out of Szczesny. Yaya Sanogo – an interesting selection over a fit Olivier Giroud – saw a side foot finish well kept out by Manuel Neuer, who was very good in the early going, also saving from Cazorla from a tight angle.
Arsenal then won a penalty in the 8th minute. Ozil Produced a brilliant backheel/Cruyff turn which embarrassed Jerome Boateng, who brought down the German playmaker. Ozil picked himself up to take the pen. However his penalty was tame as he strutted up trying to fool Neuer and chipped the ball straight down the middle. Neuer saved well with his right hand and continued to keep Bayern alive early in the game.
Arsenal went close again a few minutes later. Alex Oxlade Chamberlain was inches away from getting to a flick from Sanogo as Neuer again produced, sweeping up well. Arsenal were forced into a crucial change on 30 minutes when left back Kieran Gibbs went off with a hamstring injury and was replaced by Monreal. Munich would go on to exploit this for the whole of the second half.
The German’s came into the game more as the first half went on. They continued to be patient and nearly took the lead when the adventurous Alaba got to the by-line and cut back to Robben, whose low shot was well blocked by Mertasacker. Then in the 38th minute, it was the moment that the match went away from Arsenal. An excellent pass from Kroos put Robben clear and the Dutchman rounded Szczesny and was brought down. The Italian referee had no choice but to give a spot kick and a red card for the Polish shot-stopper.
Arsenal made a change to get a goalkeeper on by replacing Cazorla with Fabianski. After a long delay, Alaba struck the post with his penalty after sending Fabianski the wrong way. Arsenal got a short reprieve, but the red card would prove massive in the second half. Robben continued to threaten and was being booed continuously by the Arsenal fans. He cut inside onto his favoured left foot to fire a shot from an angle which was saved comfortably.
Munich got the breakthrough in the 55th minute after a tactical change at the break by Pep Guardiola. He replaced Boateng with Rafinha, moving Javi Martinez to centre half with Dante and moving Lahm into midfield. With Rafinha now at right back, Lahm and Kroos began to take the game by the throat and it was Lahm who fed his fellow countryman. He unleashed a beautiful curling shot into the top corner.
Arsenal tired in the later stages of the game and began to really struggle. Robben and Rafinha down Arsenal’s left were running riot. Monreal was being exposed over and over again, due to Ozil’s Poor work ethic. Robben Curled an angled 20 yard effort just wide and Mario Gotze’s header was deflected wide by Mertasacker. Muller – who had replaced Mandzukic – appeared to be tripped by Koscielny in the area, but the referee gave nothing.
Then the killer blow for Arsenal came when they won a free kick after some good work by Koscielny. A vital error from Jack Wilshere added to the misery of the hosts. He took the free kick quickly and conceded possession. Bayern broke away with a fine pass from Lahm picking out Muller – who had ran off Flamini – and the German forward made no mistake, heading in and striking the killer blow. It was nearly 3-0 in added time as the best player on the park Toni Kroos’ low shot came back off the post, with the keeper well beaten. Arsenal now have a mountain to climb in the 2nd leg in Munich, and the defending Champions looked very good without really going into second gear.
Man of the Match: Toni Kroos was Man of the Match for me. It was an outstanding performance from the German international, and he scored a wonderful goal. He could have had two more, but hardly wasted a pass, and cruised through the game.
Thanks for reading,