Arsenal continued its fine form and got its continental hopes back on track with a tough 2-0 win over German champions Bayern Munich at the Emirates Stadium in the Uefa Champions League on Tuesday night. Substitute Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil gave the Londoners a lifeline back into Europe’s elite club competition. It was undoubtedly the pick of the pack in the third group games of the competition.
Both teams assembled some of the most expensive and experienced legs in the business. Bayern before the game had a 100 per cent domestic record, while the Gunners had netted six goals from two games. Attacking football was therefore expected from the blast of the whistle.
It took just seven minutes for Ozil to test Manuel Neuer who parried the shot to touch and showed just why he is such a top class goalkeeper. Pep Guardiola’s charges took control of the midfield and passed the ball around confidently. In-form striker, Robert Lewandowski was a bundle of nerves at the other of the field as he tormented Lauren Koscielny and Per Mertesacker.
The red-hot Polish goal-getter saw his 24th minute effort high and wide after a low cross from Douglas Costa. Petr Cech was on hand to block an Arturo Vidal long drive to safety. The Germans still bossed the game until late in the first half when the hosts began to hold their own. Alexis Sanchez saw his shot fly over Neuer’s goal after cutting in from the left.
Neuer pulled off a stupendous save in the 33rd minute when Theo Walcott’s header was goal-bound. The German number one showed sharp reflexes to tip the ball off the goal line. The teams went into the break goalless.
The Bundesliga club began the second half dominating the exchanges. Lewandowski’s close-range effort flew over the bar thanks to a timely intervention by Koscielny. Arsenal’s French international defender was called up again to make another timely tackle after Lewandowski had a clear sight on goal
The home side’s defence appeared to be fire fighting at the back. Thomas Mueller’s 76th minute curler was inches wide of the upright. Arsene Wenger’s decision to pull off striker Walcott for Giroud paid off when the Frenchman headed in from close range. Wenger’s boys won a freekick in the middle of the park and the well-flighted freekick by Santi Cazorla beat Neuer and found the Giroud who headed in the opener.
Interestingly, it was the first goal the Bavarians had conceded in the campaign. Guardiola’s players continued to dominate possession even after the goal. Lewandowski was again put through on goal in the 92nd minute, but his effort went wide. The English side wrapped up victory when Hector Bellerin raced down the flank and sent a low cross to Ozil who beat his international team mate Neuer, after television replays showed the ball had crossed the goal line.
The win gives the Londoners their first of the campaign and a major boost to their continental ambitions.