FC Bayern convincingly beat Arsenal 5-1 in Wednesday's Champions League last sixteen first leg. Arjen Robben, Robert Lewandowski, two-goal Thiago and Thomas Müller handed the German record champions a near-unassailable advantage in the first knockout round tie, extending Bayern's record to a remarkable 16 straight victories on home soil in Europe's elite club competition.
Bayern lined up with Manuel Neuer in goal behind a back four featuring Philipp Lahm, Javi Martínez, Mats Hummels and David Alaba. Xabi Alonso and Arturo Vidal took up station in front of the rearguard and behind midfield maestro Thiago, with Robben and Douglas Costa out wide looking to serve orthodox centre-forward Lewandowski.
Seeking to add more width to his side's game, Carlo Ancelotti made two changes to the XI that saw off Ingolstadt on Saturday, opting for a 4-2-3-1 formation, the same as Arsenal. Wingers Robben and Costa replaced Müller und Joshua Kimmich. In the closing stages Müller and Kimmich took over from Costa and Lewandowski, with Rafinha coming on for Robben with the final whistle imminent.Sánchez replies to Arjen's golden curler
The 70,000 capacity crowd at the Allianz Arena saw Ancelotti's troops dominate proceedings from the off, and Vidal drew a fine save from visiting netminder David Ospina just seven minutes into the game. Bayern's early pressure paid off when Robben received the ball on the right wing, cut inside in his trademark manner and unleashed a sumptuous curling 25-yarder into the top corner of the net.
Despite dominating their opponents for the first 20 minutes the Bavarians suffered a set-back on the half-hour, when match official Milorad Mazic awarded a debatable penalty. Neuer saved Alexis Sánchez' spot-kick, but the Arsenal forward caught the Bayern rearguard napping, netting the rebound at the second attempt. The Reds went looking for a reply, but Lewandowski miscued a header from Vidal's fine pass. Xhaka warmed Neuer's gloves from 20 yards before Lewandowski saw another header sail over the bar and Hummels failed to connect with an Alonso cross. Özil drew a fine save from Neuer with the half-time whistle imminent.Reds up the ante - and make it count
After an entertaining first half it seemed Lady Luck might be smiling in the away side's direction, but the Reds roared off the blocks after the break, and they made their dominance count early into the second half. Lewandowski was finally fed with a perfect cross, and this time his header found the net. Barely 200 seconds later Thiago slotted the ball past Ospina following Lewy's cunning back-heel, and the German record champions had more salt to rub into Arsenal's wounds when Thiago aced Ospina once more, this time with the help of a deflection.
The tiring visitors were caught out on the edge of their own box in the closing stages, Müller seizing possession, playing a one-two with the outsdtanding Thiago, sending three Arsenal defenders the wrong way and slotting home to seal the final scoreline - making Lewandowski's effort off the bar and numerous fine Ospina saves against Martínez, Vidal and Robben mere footnotes to an ultimately commanding performance.
The Reds are back in action on Saturday, when they travel to face Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga. Their second encounter with Arsenal will be on 7 March, and the Reds will surely be buoyed by a convincing edge and Wednesday's stunning second half against the Gunners.
Live match report for fcbayern.com by Greg Salmen
FC Bayern - Arsenal 5-1 (H-T: 1-1)FC Bayern
Neuer - Lahm, Martínez, Hummels, Alaba - Alonso, Vidal - Robben (Rafinha 88), Thiago, Costa (Kimmich 83) - Lewandowski (Müller 86)
Ulreich, Rafinha, Bernat, Coman, SanchesArsenal
Ospina - Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny (Paulista 49), Gibbs - Coquelin (Giroud 77), Xhaka - Iwobi (Walcott 66), Özil, Oxlade-Chamberlain - Sanchez
Cech, Gabriel, Monreal, Welbeck, ElnenyReferee
Milorad Mazic (Serbia)
Attendance 70,000 (capacity)
Goals 1-0 Robben (11), 1-1 Sánchez (30), 2-1 Lewandowski (53), 3-1 Thiago (56), 4-1 Thiago (63), 5-1 Müller (88)Yellow cards
Hummels, Lahm / Mustafi, Sánchez, Xhaka