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English Premiership

Glory in failure as Arsenal fall just short

GIROUD-MUNICHMUNICH, Germany, March 13 – Arsenal became the last English club to bow out of the Champions League on Wednesday despite a 2-0 second-leg win at Bayern Munich as the Gunners lost their last-16 tie on away goals.

Having beaten Arsenal 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium in the first leg in London three weeks ago, Bayern had been odds on favourites to finish the Gunners off in the Bavarian capital to go into Friday’s quarter-final draw.

Arsenal took the fight to their German hosts with striker Olivier Giroud giving the Gunners an early lead before centre-back Laurent Koscielny netted with 86 minutes on the clock to set up a frantic finish, but the 3-3 aggregate score saw Bayern sneak through.

Much had been made in the build-up of Arsenal’s “Mission Impossible in Munich” with the Gunners needing three goals at Bayern’s fortress-like Allianz Arena, but Arsenal quickly dismissed any notion this tie was already decided.

The game was just three minutes old when Tomas Rosicky found space, Theo Walcott fired in a cross and Giroud drilled his shot into the roof of the net, seized the ball and sprinted back to the halfway line.

It was the first time Bayern had conceded a goal inside the first 15 minutes this season and there were plenty of blank expressions in the Munich ranks.

Bayern responded by playing predominantly in Arsenal’s half, but Rosicky, who took the place of the injured Jack Wilshere behind Giroud, was at the centre of everything the Gunners did with the hosts clearly rattled by the opening goal.

The patience and composure which has left Jupp Heynckes’ side 20 points clear in the Bundesliga suddenly seemed to desert them.

Bayern did begin the second half with intent as both Arjen Robben and Toni Kroos fired wide, while right-winger Thomas Mueller twice forced Arsenal goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski into diving saves.

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Munich controlled possesion, but poor final passes kept offering Arsenal some hope with Bayern missing injured France star Franck Ribery on the left wing while suspension meant Bastian Schweinsteiger was absent in midfield.

Robben let a golden chance go begging with 67 minutes gone when he got in behind the Arsenal defence, but he fired straight at Fabianski.

With 10 minutes left substitute Gervinho came perilously close to adding Arsenal’s second, but the ball harmlessly rolled out of play for a goal-kick.

The second goal finally came when Santi Cazorla’s corner fell to Koscielny, who beat Bayern’s Javi Martinez to head into the bottom right corner.

There was plenty of pushing and shoving in the Bayern goal when goalkeeper Manuel Neuer briefly laid on the ball to eat up a few seconds with the Arsenal players desperate to kick-off again, but the third goal ultimately eluded them.

While Arsenal are the last English team to exit the Champions League, Bayern join Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund in the last eight.

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