Champions League Results: No Fairy Tale Comeback for Arsenal as Bayern Munich Ease Through; Atletico Madrid Thump Milan
By Deepak Vikraman | March 12, 2014 2:36 PM EST
It wasn't as good as the last season, and the result was the same, as Arsenal, for the second successive campaign, were knocked out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich.
The first leg of their last 16 tie proved to be the deciding factor, with the Gunners unable to claw down the 2-0 deficit, as the second leg at the Allianz Arena finished 1-1, giving the defending champions Bayern a 3-1 victory.
The onus was on Arsenal to take the fight to Bayern, much like they did in the same stage last season when they went on to win the second leg 2-0 but lose the tie on the away goals rule; however, what transpired was Bayern control for pretty much the entire 90 minutes, with Arsenal, who equalised via Lukas Podolski after Bastian Schweinsteiger had given Bayern the lead, unable to pile on any kind of pressure when full-on attack was crying to be employed in the final half hour.
Bayern, who missed a last-minute penalty, were not at their ruthless best, and that is partly due to Arsenal's resolve in defence and midfield, with the centre-back partnership of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny yet again excelling. However, the German champions, unbeaten in the Bundesliga this season and on a 49-match winning league run, were the better team over the two legs and deservedly go through to the next round, with Arsenal facing elimination from the last 16 for the fourth year in a row.
The game began with Bayern in control, while Arsenal, who saw Mesut Ozil sit out the second half through injury, rarely looked primed for that early goal, which Arsene Wenger said was essential if they were to get something out of this tie, with only Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looking like he wanted the big win.
Bayern did not threaten too much either, even if Arjen Robben was a constant menace down the right. The Dutchman, though, was also having a contest of his own, a contest which would have put him well in contention for a medal in the diving discipline at the Olympics.
Wenger called Robben a "great player and a very good diver" and you could understand exactly why after this performance, with Robben cajoling a penalty out of the referee under the challenge from Koscielny in the final moments of the game.
Thomas Muller, though, would miss the spot-kick, however irrelevant it might have been with Bayern already as good as through to the quarterfinals at that point.
Prior to that, Bayern got their goal in the 55th minute, just a minute or so after Robben had gone down inside the penalty box asking for a penalty, when referee Svein Oddvar Moen should have really given the Bayern winger a yellow for diving.
Franck Ribery, who missed the first leg, was the creator, easing his way down the Bayern left, before passing the ball to Schweinsteiger, who calmly smashed the ball into the top corner.
While Wenger had called for the referee to call a "fair game" ahead of the second leg, it was Arsenal who were given a huge slice of luck for the equaliser two minutes after the opener. Podolski and Olivier Giroud played a one-two, which Bayern defender Philipp Lahm had under control. However, Podolski barged his compatriot out of the way and as everyone waited for the referee to blow his whistle, Podolski, almost disbelieving his luck, smashed the ball past Manuel Neuer from a tight angle.
If there ever was a time for Arsenal to put the proverbial pedal on the metal it was now; but strangely there was no wave after wave of attacks, with the Bayern defence rarely troubled as the game ended in parity.
At the Vicente Calderon, Atletico Madrid eased past AC Milan 5-1 on aggregate after winning their home leg 4-1, courtesy a brace from the ever-impressive Diego Costa. Arda Turan and Raul Garcia got the other goals for Atletico, who made it to the quarterfinals for the first time in 17 years, with the lone consolation for Milan coming via Kaka.
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