MUNICH (Reuters) – Lacklustre Bayern Munich advanced to the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday despite losing 2-0 to Arsenal in Munich to book their ticket on the away goals rule.
Olivier Giroud netted in the third minute to give the Gunners early hope after their 3-1 first leg defeat last month as they tried to become only the third team ever to advance in the knockout stage after losing the first leg at home.
Laurent Koscielny set up a nervous finale when he headed in their second goal five minutes from time but Arsenal failed to grab a third that would have sent them through.
Arsenal’s exit means that there will be no Champions League quarter-finalist from England for the first time since the 1995/96 season although the Gunners returned with their pride restored after becoming the first English team to win away against Bayern since Norwich City in the 1993/94 season.
Despite a string of key absences, including forward Lukas Podolski and Jack Wilshere, Arsenal shot out of the blocks and made good on their promise of an early goal when Theo Walcott cut into the box and slid the ball across for Frenchman Giroud to ram the ball into the net after three minutes.
Bayern kept their cool and gradually took control of the game, helped by Arsenal’s sloppy passing, and had a chance of their own with Luiz Gustavo firing over the bar from just outside the box after 10 minutes.
Tony Kroos also tried his luck from a distance as a solid Arsenal defence, including left back Kieran Gibbs, worked hard to keep the Bavarians well away from the box.
Bayern inject more pace in the second half and Arjen Robben, replacing injured Franck Ribery, came agonisingly close to an equaliser right after the restart but keeper Lukasz Fabianski stretched to palm his low drive around the post.
Fabianski, starting for Wojciech Szczesny who was left at home because of what coach Arsene Wenger said was mental fatigue, came to the rescue again when the Dutchman raced clear in the box and the keeper blocked his shot at point blank range.
Bayern enjoyed plenty of shots at goal although they badly lacked their usual ruthless edge and were severely shaken when Koscielny rose to head in Santi Cazorla’s corner.
With the aggregetate score at 3-3 the hosts survived three minutes of stoppage time without any major alarms although it was not the march into the last eight that many expected.
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