Arsenal 2 (Giroud 77, Ozil 94) – Bayern Munich 0
Man of the Match – Petr Cech (Arsenal)
Bayern’s brilliance eventually proved no match to Arsenal’s resolve, as the Gunners kept their European hopes alive, with a vital 2-0 win that would live long in the memory of Arsenal fans. Having taken confidence from consecutive 3-0 wins over Manchester United and Watford, Arsenal knew they had their work cut out against a brilliant Bayern side, probably the best football team on the planet at the moment.
Arsene Wenger named his strongest squad, having lost 2-1 at Dynamo Kiev, and 3-2 at home to Olympiakos, as Arsenal went in search of their first European win of the season. David Ospina, who was culpable of handing Olympiakos their win at the Emirates, was replaced by first choice Petr Cech, while Theo Walcott kept his place up front. Bayern named their strongest squad as well, with goal machine Robert Lewandowski leading the line, and the ever dangerous Brazilian winger Douglas Costa.
Polish international Robery Lewandowski, who made his way into the Guiness Book of World Records, for his 5 goal salvo against Wolfsburg, nearly opened the scoring against Arsenal, after just 30 seconds, with only a last ditch tackle from Hector Bellerin preventing him from scoring. The right back was then called offside moments later, before Arsenal created the chance of the game, with 7 minutes played. Alexis Sanchez drove into Bayern, setting up Ozil, whose right footed effort was saved by his childhood friend Manuel Neuer, and Theo Walcott couldn’t turn in the rebound from the narrowest of angles.
German striker Thomas Mueller then had a chance at the other end, but Petr Cech was equal to the point blank effort. Bayern enjoyed swathes of possession, with Arsenal happy to let the German champions play in front of them. Then, there were chances at both ends, as Walcott’s effort was palmed away by Neuer, before Cech had to make saves off the left foot of Lewandowski and Arturo Vidal. Then, Walcott and Alexis combined to set up the former, but he couldn’t time his shot properly, as Arsenal won a corner in the 30th minute. Alexis chested it down well, but his shot was way over the crossbar.
Arsenal were still creating problems for Manuel Neuer, and Theo Walcott was giving the German keeper some work to do. In the 34th minute, a Nacho Monreal cross came in from the left, and an unmarked Walcott headed it on target, only to be denied by a brilliant diving Neuer. Walcott could be forgiven for thinking he had scored. Walcott saw another effort saved by Neuer, before a shot from Douglas Costa flew over Cech’s head. Alexis then escaped a shout for penalty, when he handled the ball in the area, as the team went into half-time, level with no goals scored.
Bayern started the second half stronger, with a shot from Costa fizzing over the bar, and Lewandowski then actioning the Arsenal keeper into a save again. From the resulting corner, Costa drew a low save from Cech. On 56 minutes, Arsenal were forced into a substitution when Aaron Ramsey pulled his hamstring, and was replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Nacho Monreal and Mesut Ozil combined to set up Francis Coquelin, yet to open his goal scoring account for Arsenal, but the Frenchman’s shot was high and wide. Alexis lost the ball, which allowed Lewandowski to have a go at Cech, but he was thwarted just in time by Mertesacker, and the rebound from Alonso went wide. Bayern by now were dominating proceedings, and a rare chance for Walcott resulted in an easy save for Neuer.
The changes came ringing in when Bayern bought on Joshua Kimmich and Rafinha for Xabi Alonso and Arturo Vidal, while Olivier Giroud came on for Walcott. There was a moment of grave danger for Arsenal when it seemed Robert Lewandowski would go on and score, only for a fine last ditch tackle from Laurent Koscielny and a good save from Cech to avert the danger. Moments later, a Thomas Mueller shot went just wide.
The deadlock was finally broken, in the 77th minute. Not by a rampant Bayern, but by a resolute Arsenal. It was scrappy, but it was legitimate as the stadium erupted in one incredible moment of joy. A ball was floated in by Santi Cazorla. Manuel Neuer came to save, but completely missed. It struck Olivier Giroud on the head, and went in, with Jerome Boateng for close company. Giroud knew little of it, but Arsenal were leading 1-0.
Kieran Gibbs came on for Alexis, who had run himself to the ground, to reinforce his defence. Olivier Giroud had the chance to make it 2-0, but his header wasn’t well timed, and he came back to fulfil his defensive duties. Thiago Alcantara and Robert Lewandowski had further chances, but couldn’t capitalize.
Hector Bellerin made most of a turned off Bernat, made an interception in midfield, sped his way into Bayern’s penalty box and crossed in for an onrushing Mesut Ozil, who drew a brilliant save from Neuer, but the save was made behind the line, and Arsenal were awarded a goal. Neither Ozil, nor the stadium realized that it was a goal, till the assistant referee confirmed it, and the roof was bought down to the ground.
A famous and important win, on a night the entire team had to put in that extra effort!
Jai Arsenal 🙂
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