Arsenal slipped to a 2-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 encounter.
In a game of two missed penalties and one sending off, Toni Kroos’ brilliant strike and a late goal from Thomas Muller were enough to give Bayern a first-leg lead.
Kroos missile headlines ahoy. What a goal. Kroos 1-2 with Lahm, Kroos finish from 20 yards. What a strike. #fcbayern lead.— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) February 19, 2014
Arsenal will have to topple the defending champions on their home turf, which they did 12 months ago, if they are to progress.
The one positive to take from the game for Arsenal is that the contest is not beyond them. It certainly could have been, as Bayern carved out several chances in the final 30 minutes but only took one of them.
Arsenal made a bright start but almost found themselves a goal behind inside five minutes. Kroos hit a sweet strike from 20 yards that was clawed away by the outstretched right hand of Gunners keeper Wojciech Szczesny.
Yaya Sanogo was a surprise name in Arsenal’s starting XI, and he made an extremely effervescent start. On a couple of occasions in the opening exchanges he made the Bayern defence look troubled, and on seven minutes he came close to a maiden Champions League goal.
A loose ball fell at the forward's feet 12 yards from goal. He made crisp contact, but Manuel Neuer got down sharply to his left to make the save.
Seconds later, Neuer was the equal of a low strike from Santi Cazorla, but the Spaniard would have been better served squaring the ball to Mesut Ozil, who was well placed in the box.
Ozil has flattered to deceive in recent months, and he showed the good and the bad of his game inside 60 seconds. On eight minutes, the German latched onto a clever pass from Jack Wilshere, and a slick drag back drew the foul in the box from Jerome Boateng.
Ozil took responsibility from the penalty spot, but his run up lacked conviction and Neuer pushed away his weak attempt.
VNE: Well, he fluffed that right up. http://t.co/EOdOjuO4BC— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 19, 2014
Bayern started to assert themselves as the half wore on. Minutes after Kieran Gibbs had been forced off on account of injury, they won a penalty.
Gibbs’ replacement Nacho Monreal did not track the run of Arjen Robben, and the Dutchman dashed into the box only to be upended by Szczesny.
Referee Nicola Rizzoli pulled out a red card, but that proved to be the only punishment for Arsenal as David Alaba sent his spot kick against the post.
Szczesny’s replacement Lukasz Fabianski made a couple of decent saves at the start of the second half, but he could not keep out Kroos’ strike on 54 minutes. Philipp Lahm played a simple pass into the path of his team-mate, and Kroos hit the ball sweetly with his instep, the effort flashing into the top corner.
Robben had the chance to put the tie beyond Arsenal shortly after the hour, but he seemed to be in two minds when the ball came his way at the back post. He decided neither to pass nor shoot and Fabianski was able to gather.
It was pretty much one-way traffic in the final 30 minutes. Bayern arguably should have been awarded a second penalty, as Laurent Koscielny appeared to whip Muller's legs away from him in the box, but Rizzoli was unmoved on that occasion.
Just when it appeared Arsenal might escape with only a one-goal deficit, substitute Muller popped up with a header to hand Bayern a cushion.
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Arsenal captain Per Mertesacker spoke to broadcaster Sky Sports immediately after the game.
I think we started well; would have deserved one goal at least.
We dropped after the red card, but we kept our defensive spirit. It (second goal) is a blow, last year we lost here 3-1 and it was worse than now.
We are looking forward to Munich and why not repeat the form of last year.
Munich are a fantastic team, they play possession very well. We tried everything today. But overall we have to take that defeat with us.
Mentally we are stronger than last year.
The second leg takes place on March 11, which leaves both sides to concentrate on domestic matters.
Bayern top the Bundesliga table by a massive 16 points, which affords manager Pep Guardiola the luxury of being able to rotate and keep his star names fresh.
Arsenal do not have that luxury, as they have been overhauled domestically and go into Saturday's home game with Sunderland trailing leaders Chelsea by a point.