Arsenal 2 Bayern Munich 0
( Giroud 77, Ozil 90 +5 )

It has to rank as one of the best nights in Arsenal’s Champions League history. Bayern Munich, the five times champions of Europe and top of Group F came to North London with six points out of six after two games, against an Arsenal side stuttering on the European stage and pointless with back to back losses to Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiacios. No one could have foreseen what would follow as substitute Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil claimed two of the highest prized if somewhat scrappy Gunners’ goals to stun Bayern and register their first win of their current Champions League campaign. Having sustained the Bayern onslaught, Petr Cech produced some excellent saves, and his defence were just as resolute. Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertersacker, Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerinhelp held firm to breathe life into the Gunners Champions League campaign as Arsene Wenger’s side kept the Bundesliga side at bay with a spectacular win.

Widely acknowledged as the best goal keeper in the world, Manuel Neuer produced a stunning first half save to deny Theo Walcott’s header from Nacho Monreal’s cross. Both Walcott and Aaron Ramsey had turned away in anticipation of the goal celebrations, that was until the agile Neuer swung his lean frame to claw out the ball low from under his cross bar for one of the best saves ever made in world football.

How unfortunate for the German keeper then that it was his error in trying to clutch Santi Cazorla’s high free kick which would cost his team. Neuer mistimed his attempted collection, and the loose ball was bundled into the net after 77 minutes by Giroud who having come on for Walcott, had only been on the pitch for three minutes. Great relief and noisy celebrations engulfed the Emirates stadium, but there would be further drama to follow.

Hector Bellerin, the 20 year old Arsenal star was having perhaps the test of his young professional life. Twisted and turned by Douglas Costa, Bellerin was no shrinking violet and remained focused and held firm, when facing the Brazilian. With time running out and Arsenal now in the ascendency, Bellerin intercepted deep in Bayern territory and put in an amazing cross for Özil. The German caught the ball cleanly and although Neuer seemed to produce another fine save, the additional assistant referee at the goal signalled that the ball had crossed the line, to massive – almost disbelieving celebrations from inside the Emirates stadium for a 2-0 scoreline.

The German side, unbeaten in their last twelve games and on their last two visits to the Emirates stadium played the kind of game which Arsenal fans are familiar with, only they are accustomed to seeing their red shirted side dominate games. With 68 per cent possession, it was clear that the German champions would not be overawed, as their fans had been at the £64 ticket price they had to pay. The Bayern fans group protested with a section of their supporters boycotting the first five minutes of the match and unfurling a banner of protest ” £64 for a ticket But without fans, football is not worth a penny ! ” The sentiments were well received by the home supporters too.

Cech made a mockery of the decision to be a mere substitute in the loss to Olympiacos, and showed that he is still the man for the big occasions with some fine goal keeping throughout, with the saves from Thiago Alcantara, Arturo Vidal and Robert Lewandowski of significant note. The latter was odds on to add to his 15 goals in his last seven games for both for club and country, that was until an excellent block from Laurent Koscielny ensured that Arsenal would keep another clean sheet.

It was fascinating end to end stuff. Was this the plan B which Arsenal fans had been craving when games needed a different focus? To hold together, be disciplined and not storm foreward on a whim, only to get caught on the counter? It was certainly one of the best all round Arsenal performances. Wenger must have been smiling to himself and at the final whistle, his tactics and that smile spoke volumes.

” It was not deliberate from the start but I thought when we played very high up we stopped them from playing. When we were playing halfway they opened us up too much so I decided to drop Özil a bit deeper and to make it tight around the box and catch them on the break because we have the pace to do it and to find some space with the game going on, ” said Wenger who was also quick to praise the heroics of Cech.

” He was important. I think he kept us in the game and you can say the same for Neuer. We had two top, top, top world-class keepers on the pitch today and that of course was vital on both sides.”

On where the win ranked, Wenger gave a pragmatic response.

” I don’t know. We had an absolute necessity to win the game and we did it in an intense and disciplined way. It was a top level game between two top-level teams. Bayern had more possession than us but we decided to make it tight in our final third and catch them on the break. The last part of the game where we went longer and used long balls we could play more in their half and they struggled. I think they dropped a bit physically as well but overall I think we have beaten a very strong team and kept a good level focus from the first to the last minute and kept a clean sheet as well,” noted Wenger after his side’s first Champions League win of the season. The two sides meet again in Munich in a fortnight, and that will be another crucial night for the Gunners.

Impressed by Bellerin and his response to a testing evening by Costa, Wenger noted, “What I like is two top level players, in the end Hector found always the resources in the last 10-15 minutes to get on top of him and that is fantastic to see from a boy of 20 years-old. Of course, he was top level. I like the fact that he has that desire to get on top of his opponent until the last minute. That competitive edge he brings to the game.”

Everyone inside the Emirates stadium and the millions of viewers watching on television will have accepted that they had witnessed one of the best Champions League games. Arsenal will now look to carry on that winning momentum when Everton arrive in North London for Saturday’s evening kick off.