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Phuket Gazette Sports: Arsenal outgunned by devastating Bayern

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Classy Bayern in command after 3-1 victory at Arsenal
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Bayern Munich seized control of their Champions League last 16 tie against Arsenal as goals from Toni Kroos, Thomas Mueller and Mario Mandzukic earned the German giants an emphatic 3-1 first leg win at the Emirates last night.

A clinical early strike from Kroos opened the scoring and when Mueller made it 2-0 midway through the first half the visiting fans were already in party mood.

Lukas Podolski scored against his old club as Arsenal battled back after the break but Mandzukic bundled in a third Bayern goal in the 77th to seal their first ever win in London.

The runaway Bundesliga leaders, trying to make amends for a heartbreaking shootout loss to Chelsea in last year’s final, toyed with Arsenal for 45 minutes and, though given a real scrap after that, are overwhelming favorites to reach the last eight.

Arsene Wenger’s side began positively with Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott advancing deep into Bayern territory but it took the visitors seven minutes to stop the Gunners in their tracks.

Mueller, a constant menace down the right flank, was allowed time to cross and his scuffed delivery wrong-footed Arsenal’s defense and fell perfectly for Kroos to swivel and thump a first-time shot into the turf and past keeper Wojciech Szczesny.

Oozing confidence after an 18-match unbeaten sequence dating back to October, Bayern sensed Arsenal’s confidence was fragile and went about hammering home their superiority.

It was no surprise when the Germans doubled their advantage after 21 minutes when Daniel Van Buyten’s glancing header from a corner was blocked on the line by Szczesny but the ball popped up for Mueller to flick it into the unguarded net.

Arsenal frustration
Bayern looked capable of putting the tie to bed before halftime and almost did so moments before the break when Mandzukic rose majestically to meet Philipp Lahm’s cross but placed his powerful header agonizingly wide.

Arsenal’s frustration resulted in first-half bookings for Bacary Sagna, Thomas Vermaelen and Mikel Arteta while Bayern’s Bastian Schweinsteiger was yellow-carded for kicking the ball away and will be ruled out of the return leg in Bavaria.

Schweinsteiger’s moment of ill-discipline looked irrelevant with his side so dominant but the hosts responded after the interval to try to make the second leg more than a formality.

Ten minutes into the second half, a corner from Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere found former Bayern forward Lukas Podolski unmarked and he gratefully nodded past keeper Manuel Neuer.

It was the first goal conceded by Bayern this year and rattled the visitors as the home crowd sensed that maybe all was not lost amid memories of Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Barcelona in 2010 when they also trailed 2-0.

Arsenal substitute Olivier Giroud nearly equalized with his first touch after joining the fray with 20 minutes left but his sweetly-struck shot from Walcott’s cross went straight at Neuer.

The revival was cut short after 77 minutes when Bayern counter-attacked in devastating fashion and Lahm’s skidding cross spun up and in off Bayern’s Croatia striker Mandzukic.

Arsenal huffed and puffed looking for another reply but Bayern were better in every department and Arsenal were booed at the final whistle, just like on Saturday in their FA Cup defeat by Blackburn Rovers, as their season threatened to unravel.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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