Bayern Munich 5-1 Arsenal: Gunners thrashed in Champions League last-16 first leg
By Oliver Yew
Last Updated: 16/02/17 6:00am
Thiago Alcantara scored twice as Bayern Munich thrashed Arsenal 5-1 on Wednesday to take full control of their Champions League last-16 tie.
Arjen Robben handed Bayern the lead after 11 minutes with a trademark strike after cutting in off the left flank before Alexis Sanchez grabbed an away goal, following up to score the rebound after seeing his penalty initially saved by Manuel Neuer.
The Gunners were well in the tie at the break, but they lost captain Laurent Koscielny shortly after the interval and it proved to be the turning point.
Bayern went on the rampage, re-taking the lead in the 53rd minute thanks to Robert Lewandowski's header before Thiago scored twice in seven minutes to put Carlo Ancelotti's side in full control.
Substitute Thomas Muller rounded off the scoring to leave Arsenal needing a Champions League miracle ahead of the second leg at the Emirates Stadium on March 7.
As expected, David Ospina replaced Petr Cech for the Gunners and he was straight into the action, showing good handling to keep hold of Arturo Vidal's long-range effort in the eighth minute.
However, Bayern took the lead three minutes later as Robben cut in from the left flank before picking out the top corner with a curling left-footed strike, leaving Ospina with no chance.
Ancelotti's side were in full control, dominating the midfield battle as the visitors struggled to win the ball back. Philipp Lahm, in combination with Robben, caused the Gunners all sorts of problems down the right flank, and the Dutchman tested Ospina once again from long range.
Arsenal's best hope looked to be on the counter-attack with Sanchez the main threat. In the 26th minute, the Chile international drove to the edge of the Bayern penalty area, forcing Mats Hummels into bringing him down. Mesut Ozil curled a tame free-kick straight at Neuer, who spilled the ball, causing panic in the Bayern defence, but the flag was up for offside as the ball fizzed wide of the post.
The Gunners continued to press and they were rewarded three minutes later as Lewandowski dwelled on the ball attempting to clear a corner. Koscielny nipped in and the Polish international brought him down with his follow through.
The referee immediately pointed to the spot and although Sanchez's penalty was initially saved, the Chilean showed great composure to bring the rebound down before picking out the far corner to give Arsenal an away goal.
The Gunners were given a huge lift by the goal and, after Ozil and Sanchez combined, the Chilean released Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who picked out Granit Xhaka on the edge of the area, but the midfielder's firm shot was straight at Neuer.
Lewandowski then passed up a glorious chance, heading over David Alaba's cross before Ozil forced Neuer into a smart stop on the stroke of half-time.
Wenger would have been delighted with his side's first-half showing but they received a huge blow in the 49th minute when Koscielny over-stretched to make a clearance and was forced off, with Gabriel coming on in his place.
And four minutes later the hosts were ahead with Lewandowski, nodding home Lahm's inch-perfect cross.
Things got even worse for the Gunners in the 56th minute and the Polish striker was involved again, flicking Xabi Alonso's pass into the path of Thiago, who produced a low finish to beat Ospina.
Bayern were turning on the style and they could have been further in front with Lewandowski clipping a shot onto the bar shot before Robben's rebound was deflected behind.
Arsenal needed Ospina to make a superb point-blank save to deny Lewandowski, but he was soon beaten again as Thiago's strike deflected off Xhaka and into the net.
Bayern continued to press forward with Arsenal having no answer, and the deficit could have been even greater with Ospina called into action to push Vidal's low drive wide off the post before tipping Douglas Costa's strike behind.
But Bayern did eventually add a fifth through Muller, who came off the bench with four minutes remaining, and he put the hosts in a formidable position ahead of the second leg after Oxlade-Chamberlain lost possession on the edge of his own box.
The result means Bayern, who beat Arsenal 5-1 for the second meeting in succession, extend their run of Champions League home wins to 16 consecutive games. But for Arsenal, it is a sixth straight defeat in a Champions League last-16 first leg which leaves them on the verge of a seventh straight exit at this stage of the competition.