A devastating spell of three goals in 11 minutes early in the second half helped Bayern München to a memorable victory against Arsenal, who were beaten 5-1 in Munich for the second season in a row and face a seventh successive round of 16 exit.
Having thrashed Arsenal by the same scoreline last season, Bayern began positively and looked to involve Arjen Robben from the kick-off. With 11 minutes on the clock, that tactic paid off as the winger characteristically cut inside on to his left foot and, from 20 metres, curled high beyond the diving David Ospina.
Bayern's smooth start was suddenly halted, however, as Robert Lewandowski was penalised for a high challenge on Laurent Koscielny on the half-hour. Manuel Neuer blocked Alexis Sánchez's penalty, and the Chilean's initial follow-up was wild, but he kept his head to control and volley in the equaliser.
Although Bayern were jolted out of their rhythm, the half-time interval allowed a regroup and, coupled with an injury to Koscielny that forced off the Arsenal captain, they were able to seize control. Again their right wing proved the crucial outlet, Robben slipping in Philipp Lahm for a cross that was matched by Lewandowski's exceptional header.
Three minutes later it was 3-1, Lewandowski's back-heel setting up Thiago Alcántara to slot past Ospina, who was then beaten again as the Spaniard's shot from the edge of the area deflected in off Granit Xhaka.
Bayern crowned a memorable evening with two minutes left, after Héctor Bellerín had been caught in possession; Bayern were in no mood to be merciful, Thiago setting up Thomas Müller to slot in and complete Arsenal's misery.
Attack the best form of defence
Recent Bundesliga games had given the impression Bayern were somewhat stable in defence, but during the first half Arsenal exposed their weaknesses in terms of positioning and pace. The final result may cover up these deficiencies, but there will be a good amount of self-criticism at Säbener Straße over coming days.
Ancelotti's calmness keeps Bayern on track
They say goals win games; saves don't hurt either, and Neuer's stop to prevent Mesut Özil giving Arsenal the lead on the stroke of half-time made a difference, even if Bayern did accelerate after the break. Parity gave the ever-sanguine Carlo Ancelotti the liberty to not make a change at the interval, and to tell his team to keep doing what they were already doing – which they did to spectacular effect.
Key player: Thiago Alcántara (Bayern)
Probably Bayern's outstanding player all season, he was irrepressible tonight. Given the freedom to venture further forward by an authoritative Xabi Alonso performance, he pulled the strings, scoring twice and teeing up the late goal for Müller that probably finished the tie. Seven days after Lahm announced his retirement, it seems Ancelotti's side has a new leader.
Philip Röber, Bayern reporter (@UEFAcomPhilipR)
It's anyone's guess how the match would have ended without the substitution of Koscielny, which was the decisive moment of the evening. Bayern took full advantage amid the reshuffling Arsenal had to do without their injured skipper. But you also have to show a killer instinct, and the two goals that came within seven minutes of Koscielny's substitution were both fine strikes.
Andy Brassell (@UEFAcomAndyB)
This was a really tough night for Arsenal, yet after going a goal down early on under a torrent of Bayern pressure, they actually got a good foothold in the game and might even have led at the interval. The loss of Koscielny to a hamstring injury was a real blow, but Bayern were irresistible in the 20 minutes following that. Arsenal have Ospina to thank for the fact the score didn't reach embarrassing proportions, after he produced a string of excellent second-half saves.
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