Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Arsenal Go Down Fighting: Bayern Munich 1 - Arsenal 1 (Bayern win 3-1 on aggregate)

It's no easy task to come to the Allianz Arena and leave with a draw, let alone a victory. Arsenal need to score two goals and give up none to send the match to extra time. After Bayern scored in the second half, Arsenal needed to score three unanswered goals to win on aggregate. To their credit, they pulled one back, but the mountain was too far to climb.  Arsenal's Champion's League campaign is over for this year. That was always likely to be the case after going down 2-0 to Bayern in the first leg at home. Most importantly, Arsenal played hard enough and well enough to earn a draw in Munich, which will not hurt their confidence as they proceed to battle for the Premiership title and the FA Cup. 

I missed most of the first half of the match because I was teaching. I saw most of the final 15 minutes of that half, but left with 5 minutes to go so as to get home in time for the second half. It motivated me to ride as hard as I could to get home in time. I didn't quite make the kick off, but I may have set a personal best for time riding home from the law school.

All the goals came in the second half. First, Bastian Schweinsteiger scored for Bayern. He ran all the way from the center of the pitch right into the middle of the penalty area. Neither Cazorla nor Podolski tracked his run, and he was wide open. No way he was going to miss from there. Arsenal responded quickly however. Podolski took a pass on the left wing, appeared to overplay the ball, but regained it with a bit of the old argy bargy with Pillipp Lahm. Lahm and the crowd were sure Podolski had committed a foul, but the ref was pretty consistent throughout the match letting that kind of contact go for both teams. Once Podolski had reclaimed the ball from Lahm, he still had plenty of work to do. The angle was acute, and goalie Neuer had the near post covered - or so he thought. Podolski's shot combined venom with precision, traveling just over Neuer's right (inside) shoulder and into the far back corner of the net.

Bayern had a chance to put the match and the tie to bed, when the ref called a pretty soft penalty on Bacary Sagna in favor of Arjen Robben, who had been diving all over Arsenal's final third all afternoon. Fabianski came to the rescue with an excellent save, and Arsenal were still in the match. But they were only able to sustain pressure on Bayern's defense one or two more times before the clock ran out.

All in all, Arsenal did themselves proud on the day. From what I saw of the match, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was the most dangerous looking player on the pitch. That must be good news for the Gunners and for England.

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