Football: Perhaps wary that they might not see their side play Champions League football here next season, few Arsenal fans made for the exits early despite this tie looking like a lost cause from the moment Mario Mandzukic restored Bayern Munich's two-goal advantage in the 77th minute.
Though their hearts will have been warmed by the way their side fought until the end, supporters of the north London club will long remember the dominant performance of the Germans, last season's beaten finalists.
Jupp Heynckes's men took their foot off the gas briefly at the start of the second half, but were ultimately thoroughly deserved winners, thanks to strikes from Toni Kroos, Thomas Mueller and Mandzukic, the last of those goals coming when the game was poised at 2-1. The Croatian's close-range finish surely makes the second leg on March 13 a formality for the Bavarians.
Lukas Podolski briefly made the match interesting on 55 minutes, while soon afterwards substitute Olivier Giroud nearly levelled matters with his first touch, but the margin of the victory did not flatter the visitors.
A forlorn-looking Arsene Wenger conceded afterwards that his side, who would need to score three times in Germany to qualify, have little chance of progressing.
"Let's not hide the truth – it will be extremely difficult against a team of that quality," the Frenchman admitted. "We played a side who has no doubt at all. They have the history of the last six months where everything is positive."
Indeed, the statistics doing the rounds before kick-off gave Bayern Munich an aura of invincibility and the four-times European Cup winners lived up to the hype. The Bundesliga leaders had lost just once in their domestic league all season, scoring 57 and conceding just seven in 22 games. Just one of those conceded goals came away from home.
Arsenal conversely had lost 10 times this season in all competitions, the last of those losses coming in the FA Cup on Saturday when they were defeated on home soil by Blackburn. Make that 11 now.
Hardly conducive to improving the Londoners' wavering belief was the absence of first and second-choice left-backs Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal, with the Englishman injured and his Spanish understudy cup-tied. In their absence, centre-back Thomas Vermaelen was shunted over to the left side of defence where he has struggled in the past. Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Bacary Sagna ensured the remainder of the back line had a familiar feel.
Nonetheless, barely had the plumes of smoke from a flare ignited in the visiting end settled than Bayern emerged to justify their clinical reputation. Only seven minutes had passed when Kroos lashed home a bouncing drive from the edge of the box to give the Germans an early lead and a priceless away goal. Home keeper Wojciech Szczesny had no chance as Kroos did brilliantly to control Mueller's mishit cross before applying the finish.
The atmosphere at the Emirates had hitherto crackled, but silence fell on the stadium as Kroos was mobbed by his gleeful team-mates. It would be a scene revisited just 14 minutes later after Mueller stabbed home from barely a yard out. The goal was, in truth, embarrassing from a home perspective. Belgian centre-back Daniel van Buyten rose completely unmarked to Kroos's corner and powered a header goalwards. Szczesny did well to save but could only push the ball upwards and Mueller was on hand for the simplest of finishes.
The tie was running away from Arsenal and it wasn't until 10 minutes from the interval that they struck a shot at goal. A corner fell to Mertesacker and the giant German slammed a half volley goalwards, only for van Buyten to throw himself gallantly in its path.
Arsenal, too, had been picking up a steady flow of bookings, with Vermaelen, Sagna and Mikel Arteta all being disciplined. Mueller and Bastian Schweinsteiger were also cautioned shortly before the break, with the latter now suspended from the second leg.
Schweinsteiger's absence would certainly have been a moot point almost immediately had Mandzukic scored on the stroke of half-time. Bayern captain Phillip Lahm produced a peach of a cross from the right flank and the Croatian rose highest to power a bullet header half a yard wide.
Arsenal have made a habit this season of coming to life in the second half. Indeed, improving on a first half in which they failed to once test Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer, shouldn't have been too tall an order.
As it turned out, their first effort on target brought a goal. The excellent Jack Wilshere whipped in an in-swinging corner, which evaded the main melee in the area before falling to Podolski who headed into an empty net with Neuer stranded.
The custodian had only come halfway for the ball before stopping and it seemed to be that momentary pause which brought about the goal, the first Bayern had conceded in over 600 minutes of football.
The home fans were again in full voice, while Bayern appeared to losing some of their discipline with Mueller next into the book for a late, crunching tackle on Vermaelen. Bayern's dip in focus didn't last long though, with Kroos soon testing Szczesny with a rising drive. Club record signing Javi Martinez then went close from the resultant corner with a flicked header.
Heynckes withdrew Franck Ribery, replacing the Frenchman with Arjen Robben as the visitors looked to reassert themselves. The Dutchman's first meaningful act was to feel the force of a late tackle from Podolski, for which the German received a caution. Aaron Ramsey soon followed suit, taking Arsenal's tally for the night to five.
The Welshman, who had put in some shift, was soon withdrawn for Tomas Rosicky, as was Podolski for France international striker Giroud. The duo almost made an instant impact. Rosicky released Walcott down the wing and the Englishman crossed for Giroud who hit his effort strong and true, but could only direct it straight at Neuer who beat it away.
His failure was to prove costly as, with the game entering the business end, Robben released Lahm down the right side of the Arsenal area and the Germany international crossed low for Mandzukic who scored from five yards, with the help of a slight deflection off Sagna.
The Gunners now need a miracle, though in truth perhaps only Barcelona have what it takes to prevent this Bayern side from making up for last season's final heartbreak against Chelsea.
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