Saturday 25 October 2014

Gunners fall short of upset as Bayern progress

Jim van Wijk

Published 11/03/2014 | 21:53

Bayern Munich's Thomas Mueller controls the ball during their Champions League round of 16 second leg soccer match against Arsenal in Munich. Photo: REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
Bayern Munich's Thomas Mueller controls the ball during their Champions League round of 16 second leg soccer match against Arsenal in Munich. Photo: REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Arsenal bowed out of the Champions League despite a spirited 1-1 draw against holders Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.

It was always going to be a tall order for Arsene Wenger's men after losing the first leg of their last-16 tie 2-0 in London last month.

And so it proved, despite a resilient effort from the Barclays Premier League side, who equalised through Lukas Podolski having fallen behind to Bastian Schweinsteiger's close-range effort early in the second half.

There was late drama when Lukasz Fabianski saved a stoppage-time penalty from Thomas Muller for what looked a soft decision for a challenge by Laurent Koscielny on Arjen Robben.

However, unlike previous campaigns all is not yet lost for the Gunners this season, as they head to Tottenham on Sunday looking to get themselves back in the title race and can look ahead to an FA Cup semi-final against Wigan at Wembley in April.

The contest got off to a low-key start by both sides, which was understandable given the importance of the first goal in the balance of the tie.

The first opening arrived on 20 minutes when David Alaba darted down the left and fed Franck Ribery, whose floated cross towards the back post was blasted down and over the bar by Robben.

Bayern thought they had sewn up the tie on 27 minutes when Javi Martinez fired home a chipped free-kick by Thiago, but the offside flag was swiftly raised.

Arsenal came close to snatching a crucial away goal when Olivier Giroud's header from a corner was plucked out of the air by Manuel Neuer.

Arsenal's club-record signing Mesut Ozil, whose early penalty miss in the first leg proved so costly, was replaced at half-time by Tomas Rosicky, understood to because of a tight hamstring.

Bayern looked to have made the tie safe when Schweinsteiger converted Franck Ribery's cross on 55 minutes.

Arsenal, though, produced a quick response to level when Podolski, the former Bayern striker, crashed the ball in at the near post.

But despite a good spell from the visitors it was not enough to pull off an upset and at least Fabianski's late save avoided what would have been an unjust defeat.

Press Association

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