It was by no means vintage Bayern, who could easily have put the tie beyond any doubt after Arsenal had goalkeeper Wojciech Szcezny sent off and David Alaba followed up Mesut Özil’s earlier penalty miss with a spot-kick miscue of his own, before eventually breaking the hosts’ resistance twice in the second half.
Neuer outfoxes Özil
Pep Guardiola’s most notable change saw captain Philipp Lahm revert to his more natural right-back position, with holding midfielder Javi Martinez back in the starting line-up following a spell on the sidelines. Arsenal nevertheless made the brighter start, though it was Bayern’s Kroos who went closest to opening the scoring, just as he did in last season’s fixture, unleashing a rising 18-yard strike that brought a flying save out of Szczesny.
The attack-minded Gunners responded in kind, only for Manuel Neuer to pull off a pair of quick-fire saves from Yaya Sanogo and Santi Cazorla, before outwitting international team-mate Özil from the spot after the Germany international midfielder had been brought down in the box by Jerome Boateng. Bayern soon hit back through marauding left-back Alaba, who was denied a near-certain goal by Mathieu Flamini’s outstretched leg.
Alaba misses penalty; Kroos breaks deadlock
The fact remained, however, that Bayern’s high line was leaving Neuer desperately exposed and when Alaba’s ill-placed back pass fell to the feet of lurking Arsenal winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, it was the Germany No1 who kept the Bundesliga leaders on level terms, racing off his line to swipe the ball into touch. The visitors picked up towards the end of the half, but there was no breaking the spot-kick hoodoo as Alaba’s drilled penalty grazed the outside of the post after Szczesny had been sent off for a kamikaze challenge on Arjen Robben.
With Rafinha on in place of the carded Boateng, Lahm kick-starting the second half in midfield and Martinez at centre half, Bayern soon made their man advantage count. Substitute Arsenal keeper Lukasz Fabianski had already made more saves than his exiled counterpart, but even at full stretch the Polish international was unable to get anywhere near Kroos’ delicate curling strike from 18-yards.
Müller on cue
Bayern duly turned the screw, with Fabianski swatting Robben’s cross-shot away from the feet of Mario Mandzukic and Mario Götze directing a glancing header narrowly wide. Müller joined the action in the 65th minute, by which point Guardiola’s men were camped exclusively inside the Arsenal half, before a trademark slalom run and shot from Robben almost doubled the now dominant visitors’ lead.
The remainder of the action followed a similar pattern, until the North Londoners succumbed to the relentless pressure and substitute Müller’s cute headed finish. Kroos went within a lick of paint of adding a third for the reigning title-holders, but Bayern still left holding all the cards going into the second leg in three weeks’ time.
Arsenal: Szczesny - Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs (31' Monreal) - Flamini - Özil, Wilshere - Oxlade-Chamberlain (74' Rosicky), Sanogo, Cazorla (39' Fabianski)
Bayern: Neuer - Lahm, Jerome Boateng (46' Rafinha), Dante, Alaba - Thiago (79' Pizarro) - Robben, Martinez, Toni Kroos, Götze - Mandzukic (64' Thomas Müller)
Goals: 0-1 Kroos (54'), 0-2 Müller (88')
Red card: Szczesny
Christopher Mayer-Lodge reporting from the Emirates Stadium