Arsenal knocked out by Bayern after Kimmich header secures last-four spot

A run of games for Arsenal that brimmed with promise has not delivered and their season hangs by a thread

Champions League quarter-final: Bayern Munich 1 Arsenal 0 (3-2 on aggregate)

It was a night when Bayern Munich lived up to their assertions that, when the Champions League comes around, they are an altogether different beast. Equally it was a triumph for Thomas Tuchel, who may yet rescue a miserable domestic season with another European trophy and remind any suitors that his star has not waned just yet. Bayern’s certainly remains ablaze and ultimately they deserved to beat Arsenal, who seemed to run out of steam after an accomplished first half, through a fine header from Joshua Kimmich.

Mikel Arteta’s team could not muster a response and must now gather themselves. A run of games that brimmed with promise has not delivered and their season hangs by a thread. When the dust has settled a quarter-final finish will demonstrate clear progress but the swagger with which Bayern expertly shut the tie down shows there is still far to go.

Arteta had told his players to cast aside the disappointment of Sunday’s defeat to Aston Villa and seize the chance to write a new page in their history. He had a practical issue to solve at left-back, where neither Jakub Kiwior nor Oleksandr Zinchenko were appealing options to face Leroy Sané, and went for a steadier option in Takehiro Tomiyasu. Higher up the flank Gabriel Martinelli was also given a start and the hope was that Bayern, unconvincing defensively for periods of the first leg, could be exposed judiciously.


Any visitor to Allianz Arena is competing against Bayern’s history and ease on the stage. Tuchel had not been shy to include that in his pre-match messaging, perhaps mindful that they lacked some of their usual trump cards. Like Arteta he rejigged his left flank, the suspended Alphonso Davies and injured Serge Gnabry granting opportunities to Noussair Mazraoui and Raphaël Guerreiro.

The opportunity lay in sight for Arsenal against opponents shorn of a third pace merchant in Kingsley Coman. They dominated the early possession, which was perhaps no accident on Bayern’s part, given the sight of Manuel Neuer booting the ball straight upfield within seconds of kick-off. Bayern appeared happy to counter and their first two forays brought shots from Harry Kane, the first a volley shinned wide and the next a wayward blast from 20 yards.

Arsenal knew this could be a night to exploit marginal gains and had made Bayern swap ends after the toss, an otherwise buoyant crowd’s disapproval obvious as their side attacked the Südkurve first. The 3,779 away fans, in the gods opposite, saw Martinelli direct an effort wide and must have been encouraged when, with his first chance to run at Mazraoui, Saka rounded his man.

Sané must have licked his lips similarly when taking a diagonal ball beyond Tomiyasu, his centre being cut out by Gabriel Magalhães. Bayern’s wide threat did not appear overly diminished, Guerreiro feeding the rampaging Mazraoui for a delivery superbly defended by Ben White. They posed a central threat too through Jamal Musiala, whose 25-yarder was parried by David Raya.

It was hardly one-way traffic, though, and Arsenal came close either side of the half-hour. Neuer had to flip a trailing arm to divert Martin Ødegaard’s awkwardly deflected shot away but moments later the visitors should have been in front. Martinelli, who had earlier been crowded out when twisting through, was alone by the penalty spot when Ødegaard cut back but could only sidefoot straight at Neuer.

Would Arsenal regret his imprecision? Proceedings had an edge now and it sharpened further when, after Arteta gathered them for a sideline team talk while Saka took treatment, Bayern attempted to restart on a half-empty pitch. Danny Makkelie, the referee, would tolerate no such tricks but this had developed into an affair that might require an extraordinary intervention.

Arsenal could take heart, upon re-emerging for the second half, that they had finished the first looking marginally the more convincing. But within a minute of the restart they were inches from going behind when Leon Goretzka, his late run evading any pursuers, met Kimmich’s diagonal cross with a header of textbook execution that struck the crossbar.

It was a reminder that Bayern, for all their spells of imprecision, carried an ever-lurking threat. They certainly did not need a helping hand from Gabriel, who steered narrowly wide of his own goal when mopping up Guerreiro’s attempt to find Kane. While Eric Dier reacted smartly to prevent an opening for Kai Havertz at the other end, Arsenal’s broad level of control was not translating into close chances.

Bayern looked more likely to make something happen and Kimmich’s goal had been signposted. It came when Sané accelerated towards the right byline and arced a cross that Raya pawed to the other side. Guerreiro took receipt and, with time to weigh up his own delivery, read his colleague’s movement perfectly. The headed finish, powered in on the run, was emphatic.

Sané spooned over when immediately handed a chance to settle the issue and Arteta, who threw on Leandro Trossard and Gabriel Jesus, needed to cajole an extra gear from a performance that had gone flat.

An Ødegaard shot into the side netting was the closest they came to a rescue act. - Guardian