Munich - Arsene Wenger's future was plunged into further
doubt on Wednesday as Thiago Alcantara inspired Bayern Munich to a 5-1 rout of
hapless Arsenal to leave the Gunners facing a seventh straight Champions League
Bayern extended their Champions League record to 16 straight
home wins by flooring the Gunners with three goals in ten second-half minutes.
"That was a good performance, which perhaps wasn't so
expected," said Thiago, who scored twice.
"We were playing at home, knew we had to score a few
goals and everything worked very well after the break."
Bayern knocked Arsenal out at the same stage in 2005, 2013
and 2014 and look comfortably placed to make it four times after romping
through Wednesday's first leg.
The Allianz Arena defeat raises the pressure on Wenger for
the return leg on March 7 with only Alexis Sanchez's away goal for comfort.
The result matched the 5-1 group-stage thrashing Arsenal
received in Munich in November 2015 -- the club's joint record away defeat in
Arjen Robben's superb curling shot gave Bayern the lead on
11 minutes, but Sanchez levelled by drilling home after Manuel Neuer saved his
penalty on 30 minutes.
Robben also admitted he was surprised by the big win.
"Things worked very well," said the Dutch winger.
"I am a bit surprised that we played so well, but on
the other hand, I know the team has great character and can move up a gear when
Bayern hit top gear after the break with a flurry of goals
in quick succession.
Robert Lewandowski headed Bayern back into the lead on 53
minutes before Thiago added two in quick succession while Thomas Mueller came
off the bench to complete the rout.
Bayern spent the opening minutes camped in the Arsenal half
and took the lead on 10 minutes through Robben's wonderful strike.
The Dutch winger cut in from the right and curled home a
superbly-weighted shot off his left foot from outside the area.
Arsenal then raised the tempo and started pressing the
Bayern defender Mats Hummels was given a yellow card for
fouling Sanchez just outside the box.
Mesut Ozil drilled the resulting free-kick at Neuer, but
moments later Arsenal were awarded a penalty.
Lewandowski mistimed a clearance in the area and struck Laurent
Koscielny's raised leg.
Despite Bayern's furious protests, Serbian referee Milorad
Mazic pointed to the spot.
Neuer saved Sanchez's penalty, but the Chile international
drilled home the rebound at the second attempt.
It was the valuable away goal Bayern had talked about not
conceding in the match's build-up.
There were equally furious Bayern protests at the other end
when David Alaba's cross struck Hector Bellerin on the hand, but the referee
waved play on.
It was 1-1 at the break, but Bayern stepped up the pressure
in the second half.
Robben released Philipp Lahm who put in a perfect cross and
Lewandowski twisted to tuck his header past David Ospina's reach.
The Poland hot-shot then flicked Xabi Alonso's pass into
Thiago's path and the former Barcelona midfielder fired past Ospina.
Lewandowski hit the crossbar on 61 minutes, but Thiago added
his second when his shot from the edge of the box deflected past the Arsenal
goalkeeper on 63 minutes.
Mueller came on for Lewandowski on 86 minutes and added
Bayern's fifth two minutes later after Thiago squared the final pass.