It was a frustrating night for Arsenal FC at the hands of FC Bayern München's defence.
By Michael Harrold at Highbury
Arsène Wenger must have watched on in wonder as Chelsea FC dismantled FC Barcelona in a pulsating opening 20 minutes across London on Tuesday night. Chelsea had set the example and it would have taken something equally special from city rivals Arsenal FC to reverse a 3-1 deficit against FC Bayern München.
While Chelsea pressed with power, Wenger had called for patience, counselling balance over a mad dash for goal. Much defended on two new faces who had not played in the first leg, 35-year-old Dennis Bergkamp up front, and the inexperienced Philippe Senderos at the back making his UEFA Champions League debut.
Baptism of fire
It was a baptism of fire for the 20-year-old. The prolific Roy Makaay was out injured, but Bayern coach Felix Magath still seized the initiative, opting for 4-4-2 over 4-5-1 and calling in José Paolo Guerrero alongside Claudio Pizarro up front. In attack for Arsenal, Bergkamp was frozen out by Martin Demichelis and Lucio, an errant elbow on the Brazilian giving an early sign of his frustration.
The critical duel was at the other end, pitting Guerrero against the young Swiss defender, and the Highbury regulars had soon put their faith in their man. An early offside flag helped Senderos settle his nerves, then a powerful header away was testament to his confidence.
On the one occasion Bayern did get goalside of the defender, Bergkamp of all people was back in his area to knock Hasan Salihamidzic off his stride. Bergkamp's enforced retreat reflected Bayern's dominance as much as his own failure to stamp his mark on the game. When he did on 19 minutes, it was on Lucio's shin, and the Dutchman was rightly booked for the ugly lunge.
Not until just before the interval did Arsenal come to life, and then it was José Antonio Reyes who sent Thierry Henry scampering free down the left, not Bergkamp, shackled tightly by the commanding Demichelis.
Wenger, however, had called for patience, and with Henry in the side and the score goalless there was always a chance. The Frenchman's fantastic goal midway through the second half brought Highbury to life and suddenly it seemed Bayern's cool façade could be ruffled.
Michael Ballack was booked, but it was the German international, another new face from the first leg, who was increasingly pulling the strings. Could Arsenal's defence, so frail in the prolonged absence of Sol Campbell this season, hold firm long enough to give their attack another sight of goal? Senderos ensured it was so, the one time he was not there to save his side, Jens Lehmann tipped over brilliantly from the dangerous Ballack.
The centre-back had won his duel with Guerrero when the Peruvian was taken off with time ticking away. But there was not enough time left for Bergkamp to win his. At the death he shot wide through a crowd of players, a sad note to end on a night that failed to spark for the Dutchman and ultimately Arsenal.
Against expectations the Arsenal defence with Senderos at its heart, had kept the visitors at bay. But the Bayern defence too had done its job, on Bergkamp.