Bayern rout leaves Arsenal in big trouble
Thiago double helps Munich put one foot in quarter-finals
Bayern Munich answered its critics with a comprehensive 5-1 rout of Arsenal in the first leg of their Champions League clash to put one foot in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
Thiago Alcantara struck twice in a superb performance, while Arjen Robben, Robert Lewandowski and substitute Thomas Muller scored the other goals. Arsenal now faces what seems a near-impossible task in the second leg of the Round of 16 on March 7, despite a first-half equalizer from Alexis Sanchez.
Bayern had been unconvincing in its five games since the winter break but the home side soon took control of the game.
There was little Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina could do to stop Robben from opening the scoring in the 11th minute. Given too much space, the Dutchman cut inside as he’s done so often before and let fly with a shot that went in off the underside of the bar.
Arsenal was given a lifeline when Lewandowski took down Arsenal captain Laurent Koscielny in the box and the referee awarded the penalty before the half-hour mark.
Amid deafening whistles from the home fans, Manuel Neuer saved Sanchez’ weak spot kick and Sanchez then missed the rebound but the Chilean cut the Bayern fans’ cheers short when he prodded in at the third attempt.
Arsenal, which lost captain Laurent Koscielny to injury early in the second half, appears set to exit in the Round of 16 for the seventh season in a row.
But it was all Bayern for the second half as Lewandowski rose above two defenders to head into a 2-1 lead on 53 minutes. The Poland striker produced a brilliant back-heeled flick to send Thiago through to score another three minutes later.
Thiago grabbed his second a few minutes later, with a deflected shot after a corner, before Müller completed the rout two minutes after he came on in the 86th.
Munich’s Thomas Muller celebrates making it 5-1 against Arsenal at Allianz Arena in Germany.