FC Bayern have advanced to the Champions League quarter-finals for the sixth time on the bounce, setting a new record in Europe’s premier club competition with a second big victory over misfiring Arsenal. Theo Walcott scored the opener for the Gunners, but after half-time the German record champions turned the tide. Robert Lewandowski scored from the spot before Arjen Robben, Douglas Costa and two-goal Arturo Vidal found the net in the 5-1 victory, making it an impressive 10-2 on aggregate against the North London giants.
The Bavarians lined up with Manuel Neuer between the sticks and a back four featuring Rafinha, Javi Martínez, Mats Hummels and David Alaba. Vidal and Xabi Alonso took up station in front of the rearguard and behind midfield maestro Thiago, with Robben and Franck Ribéry out wide looking to serve orthodox centre-forward Lewandowski.
Carlo Ancelotti made five changes to the XI that saw off Köln last weekend. Rafinha took over from Philipp Lahm, who served a one-match ban, with Hummels, Alonso, Robben and Ribéry replacing Juan Bernat, Kingsley Coman, Costa and Thomas Müller. Robben gave way to Costa midway through the second half before Renato Sanches and Joshua Kimmich came on for Thiago and Ribéry.
Walcott gives Gunners hope
The 50,000 crowd in London saw the men from Munich dominate proceedings in the early stages, with the hosts threatening on the break in a high-octane encounter. This pattern changed gradually, and after ten minutes Neuer shone as a sweeper-keeper, beating Arsenal forward Theo Walcott to the ball. Another ten minutes had been played when Walcott scored the opener for Arsenal, hammering into the roof of the net from a tight angle via Neuer’s knuckles.
If at first the Gunners were just trying to atone for the 5-1 demolition they suffered at the Allianz Arena in the first leg, they truly smelled blood after the first goal on the night, and so did the boisterous home crowd, turning the Emirates Stadium into a cauldron. Walcott fired in again from a tight angle after the half-hour, but aimed too far to the right. Bayern upped the pace now and enjoyed a spell of pressure before the interval, but Lewandowski failed to convert a Robben cross before the Dutchman tested Arsenal netminder Ospina from long distance.
Demolition after half-time, part two
The second half started as the first one ended, only with the roles reversed. This time the home side began in command, and it was the visitors who later took over, Hummels finding the net following a free-kick only to see the offside flag. A few minutes later Lewandowski was upended in the box by Arsenal centre-back Laurent Koscielny, who was sent off before the Poland captain sent Ospina the wrong way, netting the equaliser from the spot.
Down one man on the night and four goals on aggregate again, Arsenal were knocked out of their stride once and for all, with Ancelotti’s troops imposing their passing game. Robben made the most of a mix-up around the box midway through the second-half, handing Bayern the lead, and suddenly it was the away faithful who were audible at the Emirates Stadium.
Costa closed out the meeting ten minutes later, when he put a third past Ospina after a fine sprint over 50 yards. Things became awkward again for Arsène Wenger’s troops when Lewandowski picked up a bad pass from defender Shkodran Mustafi, who otherwise turned in a strong display, and Vidal added his name to the scoresheet. The Chilean rounded off both his brace and the final scoreline with five minutes to go following a slick combination with Costa.
The Reds are back in action on Saturday, when they entertain Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga. The draw for the Champions League quarter-finals takes place on 17 March.
Live match report for fcbayern.com by Greg Salmen