Kroos, Mueller goals put Munich over Arsenal in Champions League
By Frank Griffiths ,AP February 21, 2014, 12:06 am TWN
LONDON -- Second-half goals from Toni Kroos and Thomas Mueller gave holder Bayern Munich a 2-0 victory over 10-man Arsenal and a firm grip of their last 16 Champions League tie on Wednesday.
Kroos scored in the 54th minute with a stunning strike, curling the ball past Arsenal goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, who came on after Wojciech Szczesny was sent off for fouling Arjen Robben. An unmarked Mueller scored with a powerful header from close range in the 88th.
Both teams missed penalties in the first half, with Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil shooting straight at Manuel Neuer, and Bayern midfielder David Alaba clipping a post.
Szczesny was sent off in the 37th minute for following through on Robben.
With the odds clearly stacked against the London side, Arsenal can only hope it repeats last year's 2-0 win at Bayern in the second leg on March 11. In the night's other match, Atletico Madrid forward Diego Costa scored a late winner to beat AC Milan 1-0 at San Siro.
At Emirates Stadium, the match was breathless until the sending off, with both sides attacking and trying to gain an advantage. Kroos nearly opened the scoring for Bayern in the third minute when he forced Szczesny to make a flying save with his fingertips.
Arsenal wasn't unnerved and starting to dictate play with chances for surprise starter Yaya Sanogo and Santi Cazorla. Bayern's defense started to panic and Ozil won a penalty in the eighth minute when center back Jerome Boateng clattered into him as the German swiveled past.
However, the playmaker failed to convert the spot-kick and Neuer palmed the ball to safety. It was Ozil's second penalty miss in the Champions League this season, after misfiring against Marseille in the group stage.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain created problems down the right for Bayern, but the five-time European champion settled down and started to stretch Arsenal's defense as the first half wore on.
Robben won a penalty in the 37th, when he jumped to control a ball, which bounced off his knee and appeared to be going out of play. But Szczesny was sent off when he clattered Robben's shin on the follow-through.
Fabianski came on and Alaba's spot kick clipped the outside of the left post. Bayern dominated the second half and despite resolute defending from Arsenal, the home side finally caved in.
The first goal came out of nowhere with a simple exchange of passes on the right, but Kroos was given too much space and he unleashed a shot from about 20 meters. A tired Arsenal back line switched off late in the second half, with Philip Lahm finding Mueller whose header bounced into the ground past Fabianski.
Kroos nearly made it 3-0 with a low shot that struck a post in stoppage time.
Bayern won the treble last year under Jupp Heynckes and his successor, former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, is on course to replicate the team's domination of European football.
The Germans are unbeaten in the Bundesliga this season, winning 19 of 21 league matches, and are 16 points clear at the top.
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