(Champions League) Bayern blitz blows away hapless Arsenal

Sports | 16 Feb 2017 12:17 pm

Bayern Munich answered critics with a comprehensive 5-1 rout of English club Arsenal in the first leg of their Champions League clash to put one foot in the quarterfinals yesterday. 

Thiago Alcantara (pictured with Robert Lewandowski), struck twice in a superb performance, while Arjen Robben, Robert Lewandowski and substitute Thomas Mueller scored the other goals. Arsenal now face 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. 

Arsenal, who lost captain Laurent Koscielny to injury early in the second half, look set to exit at the same stage for the seventh season in a row.

Bayern extended a 16-game winning run at home in the competition with a repeat of the score from the last time the sides met in November 2015. 

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 were given a lifeline when Lewandowski took down central defender Koscielny 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. 

Suddenly the momentum was with Arsenal. Granit Xhaka should have scored when he shot straight at Neuer, and Mesut Ozil might have made it 2-1 at the break, only for Neuer to come to Bayern's rescue again. 

But it was all Bayern after Arsenal lost Koscielny in the 49th minute. 

Robben and Philipp Lahm combined on the right ring, the latter producing an inviting cross for Lewandowski to rise above two defenders and head inside the right post in the 53rd. The striker produced a back-heeled flick to send Thiago through to score another three minutes later. 

Thiago grabbed his second, minutes later, with a deflected shot after a corner, before he set up Mueller to complete the rout with two minutes remaining. The Germany forward had come on two minutes before.-AP


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