MUNICH (Reuters) - Bayern Munich crushed Arsenal 5-1 in their Champions League round of 16 first leg on Wednesday, scoring three goals in a dazzling 10-minute spell in the second half to extend their record to 16 consecutive home wins in the competition.
Thiago Alcantara struck twice and Arjen Robben, Robert Lewandowski and substitute Thomas Mueller were also on target as the Bavarians inflicted Arsenal’s first defeat of the season in Europe’s premier club competition.
Alexis Sanchez had equalised for the visitors, scoring on the rebound after Manuel Neuer saved his 30th-minute penalty but the Gunners suffered when captain Laurent Koscielny limped off injured to leave the defence exposed.
”We should score in London but it is a good starting position,“ said Bayern captain Philipp Lahm, who will miss the return leg through suspension. ”It should be enough for us to go through.
“We played very good until the penalty and then the second half was sensational.”
Robben said Bayern had proved their recovery from a recent dip in form.
“If this was not an answer, then I don’t know. I am a bit surprised by the score but it is the Bayern mentality. When it matters we are always there,” Robben added.
Bayern, who knocked out Arsenal at this stage of the competition in 2005, 2013 and 2014, got off to a perfect start when Robben curled an unstoppable trademark left-foot shot into the top corner of David Ospina’s goal.
Arsenal levelled after being awarded a penalty for a handball by Lewandowski and Sanchez hooked home on the rebound after Neuer saved his spot-kick.The game looked to have lost its pace early in the second half before Bayern stepped on the gas to fire three goals past the English side who collapsed when Koscielny went off injured in the 49th minute.
Lahm floated a perfect cross into the box and Lewandowski rose high above defender Shkodran Mustafi to drill in a header in the 53rd minute.
The Poland striker set up Thiago with a perfect flick for Bayern’s third goal three minutes later and the Spaniard grabbed his second with a low drive before substitute Mueller completed the rout two minutes from time.
The English team are on course for a seventh last-16 exit in a row as Bayern close on a sixth successive quarter-final appearance.
The sides meet in the second leg in London on March 7.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Ed Osmond