London: Holders Bayern Munich survived an early battering to beat 10-man Arsenal 2-0 on a night of high drama in the Champions League on Wednesday as both teams missed penalties and home goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was sent off.
A year to the day after the Germans beat Arsenal 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium in their last-16 first leg tie, Bayern handed out another beating to Arsene Wenger’s men at the same stage of the competition. Second-half goals from the outstanding Toni Kroos, who curled in a superb right-foot shot, and substitute Thomas Mueller put the champions a giant step closer to the quarter finals.
Earlier, Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil missed an eighth-minute penalty and David Alaba did the same for Bayern 32 minutes later after Szczesny was dismissed by Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli for clattering Arjen Robben in the area.
Arsenal now have to better what they did a year ago in the second leg when they almost defied the odds by coming back to win 2-0 in Munich as Bayern advanced on the away goals rule.
The Bavarians returned to London in May to beat Borussia Dortmund in an all-German final at Wembley and Wednesday’s game was their first match back in the capital since. Bayern’s victory came 24 hours after Barcelona inflicted a 2-0 home defeat on Manchester City, making it unlikely that two of England’s dominant clubs will advance much further this season.
Arsenal, like City on Tuesday, ended the match with 10 men but unlike their Premier League rivals they took the game to their opponents and, certainly until Szczesny’s sending-off, gave as good as they got.
Pep Guardiola, who took over from Jupp Heynckes as Bayern coach in the close season, said his team were somewhat fortunate.
“We were lucky,” said the Spaniard. “Our ’keeper Manuel Neuer, the best in the world, showed his qualities.
“After that we played better and started dominating the game and in the end we deserved to win it.”
Arsenal, mindful that Bayern virtually had last year’s tie won inside the first 20 minutes, ripped into their opponents from the start but their early dominance failed to produce a goal.
The London club’s attacking opening should have brought them the lead when Rizzoli awarded a penalty after Jerome Boateng tripped Ozil. But the German playmaker wasted the spot kick with a soft chipped attempt down the middle that Neuer easily saved.
Arsenal kept surging forward with Santi Cazorla, who made way for substitute goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski after the red card, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain having chances to score.
At the other end Kroos brought a superb flying one-handed save from Szczesny, his main contribution before he was sent off. After the dismissal Bayern wrestled away control of the midfield with Lahm and Kroos causing problems on the right and Robben marauding down the middle. Their undoubted superiority was rewarded with two fine goals in the 54th and 88th minutes and the visitors could have had a third when a rasping shot from Kroos hit the post in stoppage time.
Bayern have now scored in 51 consecutive matches since Arsenal beat them last year and on this form look capable of becoming the first team to retain the trophy since the Champions League format began in 1992-93.