Bayern Munich 1 Arsenal 1
(Schweinsteiger 54, Podolski 57)

Arsenal exited the Champions League at the last 16 stage and at the hands of Bayern Munich for the second consecutive year. On the night, the Gunners gave a better account of themselves, Lukas Podolski levelled for Arsene Wenger’s side after Bastian Schweinsteiger had given the reigning Champions League title holders a second half lead. As with two years ago however, Arsenal’s chances all but evaporated from the first leg, and this year at the Emirates stadium, Wojciech Szczesny seeing red early in the first half with a challenge on Arjen Robben would cost the London side. That decision and Mesut Özil’s missed penalty effectively killed the tie, and proving to be mortal over two legs, Robben however was up to his old tricks at the Allianz Arena seeking every chance to fall over at the merest hint of a nudge.

Wenger was rightly proud of the way his team tried to revive the tie, while accepting where the damage had been done to this year’s Champions League ambitions.

” I have to congratulate the players for the heart and the effort they put in tonight. They have been absolutely outstanding on that front. We wanted to come out of that tie tonight qualified and with pride. We did the second part, not the first part.

” Our defending, our spirit was good. The frustration we had was the last 20 minutes I felt that Bayern was very vulnerable defensively and that we didn’t take advantage of that. We always missed the first pass but I felt the situations were there where we could have made more of it. At the end of the day we never got them really under pressure,” said Wenger.

He continued ” Even at 1-1 you could see they became suddenly nervous but because we never managed to make it 2-1, of course you could not really see how they would have responded. They are a good team, they are a great side with great players. They played well but we still have regrets over the two games.

” When you go out in the last 16, it doesn’t get closer. The regret we have is now in the last five years we played twice Barcelona, twice Bayern and every time when these teams are at the top of their game. I must say in the last two years it was at home that we were done very harsh because away from home you look at our record in Germany we have not lost for a long time. But it’s at home that we were caught. I think especially this season, the decision to send our goalkeeper off at home was the big part in that tie, ” noted the Arsenal manager who must continue to instil the importance of winning his group in any future campaign.

With both Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal injured, Arsenal were forced to play Thomas Vermaelen at left back. Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were entrusted with deep defence minded roles and that would always reduce their potency in attack. When he did get forward, Oxlade-Chamberlain was a worry for Bayern. Dante received an early yellow card for a foul on the England man. However aside from lone striker Olivier Giroud’s header from Mesut Özil’s corner, the Gunners held the Budesliga leaders at the break.

With another lacklustre outing, Özil was replaced at half time. Wenger brought on Tomas Rosicky, and that introduction added some spark to the proceedings. Wenger later revealed that Özil suffered a hamstring injury which will keep him out for several weeks at least.

Robben had given the home side the best chance for a first half lead, with Javi Martinez’s volleyed effort ruled out for offside. After a poor Lukasz Fabianski kick out, Bayern took the lead. Giroud was surrounded as he tried to control Fabianski’s kick. Schweinsteiger was allowed to ghost in, taking Franck Ribery’s pass, and unmarked, managing to beat Fabianksi for the opener after 54 minutes.

Three minutes later and Arsenal levelled. Podolski on the left took Giroud’s pass and proved too strong for Phillip Lahm before rifling into the roof of Manuel Neuer’s net. Arsenal enjoyed a strong spell of possession but couldn’t find that killer pass to set up another chance which at that stage would have tested the now nervous Bayern.

Instead, once Robben felt minimal contact from Laurent Koscielny’s presence in the area, a late penalty was awarded to the home side which Fabianski saved from Tomas Muller, as the ball fizzed across the line. A goal a piece on the night, Arsenal will take heart from their performance at the home of the runaway Bundesliga leaders, and must now translate that focus to the FA Cup semi-final on April 12th and also their Premiership campaign.