FC Bayern München have one foot in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals after beating English side Arsenal FC 5-1 in the first leg of their round of 16 encounter in Munich.
Having twice knocked Arsenal out of the competition at this stage in the past five years, Bayern were favourites going into this tie - and lived up to their billing. All the early play was down Bayern's right wing, where Arjen Robben and Philipp Lahm caused problems with overlapping runs, and the former broke the deadlock with a trademark strike, cutting in from the right and firing an unstoppable drive into the top corner.
The visitors got back into the game on the half-hour mark, however, when Alexis Sanchez finished on the rebound from close range after Manuel Neuer had saved his penalty. Affronted that their dominance was not reflected in the scoreline, Bayern began the second half strongly and soon made their presence felt, with three goals in ten minutes - a brace from Thiago and an excellent header from Robert Lewandowski – putting the outcome beyond all doubt. A late strike from substitute Thomas Müller sealed the win and left Carlo Ancelotti's men firmly in the driving seat in this tie.
Man of the match
Thiago underlined his importance to Bayern here, constantly finding space to probe the visiting defence. Furthermore, his well-taken goals were crucial in knocking the wind out of Arsenal's sails.
There were some nervy moments for Bayern just before half-time here, but ultimately the hosts thoroughly deserved to win and will be confident of progressing to the next round ahead of the return leg on Tuesday 7 March.
- Bayern had 75 per cent of possession in the first half.
- Ancelotti's men had 20 shots on goal, compared to Arsenal's seven.
- Xabi Alonso had more touches (110) than any other player on the pitch.
Bayern: Neuer – Lahm (c), Hummels, Martinez, Alaba - Alonso, Vidal - Robben (Rafinha 87'), Thiago, Costa (Kimmich 84') – Lewandowski (Müller 86')
Coach: Carlo Ancelotti
Arsenal: Ospina - Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny (c) (Gabriel 49'), Gibbs - Xhaka, Coquelin (Giroud 77') - Oxlade-Chamberlain, Özil, Iwobi (Walcott 66') – Sanchez
Coach: Arsene Wenger