London - FC Bayern München goalkeeper Manuel Neuer proved that even the very best are fallible after having a big hand in the record German champions’ first competitive defeat in 12 matches on Tuesday.
The 29-year-old made a string of world-class saves at Arsenal FC’s Emirates Stadium, before an uncharacteristic error allowed Olivier Giroud to bundle home the first of two late goals for the north Londoners on a funny old night in UEFA Champions League Group F.
'Life goes on'
"I made a mistake by coming off my line," Neuer recalled after flapping at a harmless-looking Santi Cazorla free kick 13 minutes from time. "I should have stayed on my line, then nothing would have come of it. Obviously I’m annoyed about the mistake, but I can live with it. I know I had a good game. Life goes on."
Neuer’s imperturbable personality is one of the many qualities that have propelled him to the top of the game after all. Most goalkeepers would have been in a state of meltdown after making such a high-level blunder, but as the Twitter world attested to earlier in the contest, the 62-time Germany international is merely on another level.
Thats why He is the number one in the world!!! @Manuel_Neuer wow!! What a save that was!!👌 ⚽️✋🏻— Pepe Reina (@PReina25) October 20, 2015
'Manu kept us in the game'
With 33 minutes played, the majority of the home fans were already on their feet as Arsenal forward Theo Walcott stooped to head a Nacho Monreal cross goalwards from six yards, only for Neuer to sidestep to his left and throw up a steel-like wrist to prevent a certain goal. It is without doubt the enduring image of the game.
"That first stop was just insane, no one else in the world could have kept that out," rhapsodized Bayern captain Philipp Lahm. "Manu kept us in the game [until the goal]," added Thomas Müller. "When a goalkeeper makes a mistake, it almost always results in a goal."
Class is permanent
The fact Germany international Mesut Özil went on to double Arsenal’s lead in injury time was merely academic. Bayern played well, dominated possession and had chances to score through Thiago Alcantara, Arturo Vidal and Robert Lewandowski. The Gunners, as Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rumenigge put it, simply "had the rub of the green".
Despite the defeat, Bayern still top Group F on six points ahead of Arsenal’s visit to the Allianz Arena next month. Pep Guardiola’s men do not take kindly to losing, but as long as it proves to be nothing more than a minor blip on the road to Milan, Champions League Matchday 3 will be just another footnote. Neuer’s heroics, on the other hand, will live on for generations.
Alexander Barklage/ Christopher Mayer-Lodge