Champions League: Giroud and Ozil help Arsenal gun down Bayern
Lee Gormley | October 20, 2015
Arsenal 2-0 Bayern Munich
- Gunners end German giants’ unbeaten run
- Giroud header and Ozil strike late in second half
- Arsenal still prop up Group F table
Arsenal overcome Bayern in thrilling clash
Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal secured their first points in Champions League Group F as second-half substitute Olivier Giroud’s late header helped the hosts narrowly overcome Bayern Munich 2-0 at the Emirates, with Mesut Ozil rounding off proceedings in stoppage time.
The Gunners came into the clash on the back of two consecutive European defeats and were rock-bottom of their pool without a single point, but managed to topple Pep Guardiola’s men, despite Manuel Neuer being in inspired form.
Ozil looked to have had his effort saved by Neuer after 94 minutes but, following moments of confusion, the German attacker’s shot was rightfully ruled to have crossed the line, giving Arsenal a jubilant triumph on home turf to overturn previous poor fortunes.
Early Bayern dominance
German champions Munich began the clash in their usual fashion in London, dominating possessing for long periods and searching for that decisive pass through to Robert Lewandowski, with the hosting Gunners taking up an unfamiliar role of having the smaller share of possession.
Although, Arsenal did hunt the ball down after six minutes as a great chance fell for Germany international playmaker Ozil, but his right-footed effort was thwarted by a diving Neuer, who swiftly got down to prevent his fellow countryman from opening proceedings.
At the other end, Gunners goalie Petr Cech was instantly called into action to halt an attempt from Thiago Alcantara from close range, after the midfielder had linked-up fluently with Thomas Muller following a pin-point ball from pivotal anchorman Xabi Alonso.
Wenger sets up on the counter
The majority of Arsenal’s early attacks stemmed from rapid breaks from deep, as they became constantly pegged back by Bayern’s supreme possession-play, but the pace of Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez had the Germans furiously tracking back to stop a potential chance after 18 minutes.
Brazil winger Douglas Costa was a constant danger down the left flank, with pacey full back Hector Bellerin even struggling to deal with his forward runs and low-driven deliveries towards a lurking Lewandowski and Arturo Vidal in the penalty area.
Munich veteran Philipp Lahm was featuring at right back at the Emirates, and the long-serving club legend proved his class and versatility once again down the wing, providing a constant outlet and making several key interceptions through the first period.
Neuer at his towering best in goal
With half an hour played, Walcott’s one-two with Sanchez almost saw the Gunners go ahead, if not for a crowd of Bayern bodies, but the visitors seemed rattled as Neuer then needlessly misplaced a seemingly simple pass to Juan Bernat to concede a corner.
Only moments later though, the Germany number one lived up to his billing as the world’s greatest shot stopper, showcasing incredible reflexes to deny Walcott’s close-range header with a truly remarkable save that caused a frenzy of disbelief around the Emirates.
Both Sanchez and Walcott’s influence continued to grow towards the break, as the hosts maintained their attacking onslaught towards a Munich defence that continuously pressed forward in frustration of having not yet opened the scoring, despite dominating.
The absence of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben was barely noticeable for Guardiola’s Bavarians, as Costa provided the class from wide positions, but he spurned a glorious chance before the whistle as Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin were caught out in midfield.
Guardiola always demanding more
A demanding Guardiola had visibly barraged his players during the first-half, calling for them to increase the tempo while in possession, and they tried to do so in the second period with Vidal and Muller seeing plenty of possession.
However, the intensity seemed to die down as the hour mark was reached, with Ramsey suffering an injury and immediately being replaced by England international wideman Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Prolific Pole Lewandowski had been kept relatively quiet so far, but the in-form frontman was was gifted with a chance to fire in yet another goal, but his strike was thwarted by a chasing Boateng, with David Alaba also getting back strongly.
The Giroud effect
Nacho Monreal was having to deal with the incoming threat Muller on the right flank and the Spanish left back almost gifted his the World Cup winner with an easy opportunity by ducking from a clearance, after an almost fatal mix-up with Cech.
Santi Cazorla had tried desperately to cut open Bayern’s backline throughout, but to no avail, and his main target Walcott was replaced by French targetman Olivier Giroud to give the Gunners a new dimension in attack.
Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny controlled the rear guard solidly in front of Cech but, with only 15 minutes remaining, it was left down to the Arsenal stopper to deny Lewandowski from clinically dispatching, after the defensive pair were caught sleeping.
After just moments of coming on, Giroud made an instant impact, jumping highest to connect with Cazorla’s lofted free-kick from deep, with an otherwise outstanding Neuer somehow failing to deal with the set-piece. In what was a beautifully played game, it was Giroud’s scrappy goal that put Arsenal in front, but Wenger wasn’t to care.
The Frenchman proved to be the deciding factor in an intense encounter at the Emirates, as his late substitute strike, coupled with a 94th-minute tap-in from Ozil, earned the Gunners their first points in Group F with a narrow 1-0 triumph over Munich.