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MUNICH: Bayern Munich’s Moroccan defender #40 Noussair Mazraoui ( R ) and Arsenal’s English midfielder #07 Bukayo Saka vie for the ball during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg football match between FC Bayern Munich and Arsenal FC in Munich, southern Germany. – AFP
MUNICH: Bayern Munich’s Moroccan defender #40 Noussair Mazraoui ( R ) and Arsenal’s English midfielder #07 Bukayo Saka vie for the ball during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg football match between FC Bayern Munich and Arsenal FC in Munich, southern Germany. – AFP
Bayern past Arsenal into Champions League semis

MUNICH: A 63rd-minute Joshua Kimmich header gave Bayern Munich a 1-0 win over Arsenal and a place in the Champions League semi-finals on Wednesday. The 3-2 aggregate quarter-final victory means Bayern return to the last-four for the first time since winning the title in 2020.

Bayern will face either Manchester City or Real Madrid for a place in the final. The result continues a poor week for Arsenal, who conceded top spot in the Premier League table on Sunday with their first league loss of 2024.

“We can enjoy this one. The first half was cagey and then we upped the tempo,” Bayern striker Harry Kane told TNT. “These games are tough and we had to find our way through them. “It’s going to be a tough semi final whoever we play.” Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said his side had “wanted it so badly”. “However, you can see with many other clubs that sometimes it takes six or seven years to get to that stage. We were very close, that is the reality.”

Unlike last week’s four-goal spectacle in London, Wednesday’s match was a cagey affair, with few clear chances for either side in a testy opening half. Midway through the second-half and with extra-time on the horizon, Kimmich burst through the Arsenal box and headed in a perfect Raphael Guerreiro chip.

Guerreiro, pushed from wing-back to the forwards due to Bayern’s injury woes, impressed as a creative presence when freed up from his usual defensive duties. Six-time Champions League winners Bayern join fellow Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund, who face Paris Saint-Germain, in the semi-finals. Hit by injuries to several first-team attackers including former Arsenal winger Serge Gnabry—who scored along with Kane in the first leg—and Kingsley Coman, Tuchel pushed Guerreiro into an unfamiliar advanced role.

The move worked early, with the Portuguese finding space down the left flank and linking well with Jamal Musiala in the centre. Arteta opted for the defensive stability of Takehiro Tomiyasu in place of Jakub Kiwior at left-back to neutralise Leroy Sane but the Japanese, who was making his first start since December, notably lacked rythym.

Tomiyasu completely misjudged a Musiala pass early, allowing Sane to stroll through the Arsenal box and force a corner. Gabriel Martinelli was the visitors’ most dangerous player in the opening half. He scuffed a curling ball just wide of the post after seven minutes and then shot directly at Manuel Neuer with the goal beckoning on the half-hour mark. — AFP

Bayern were the better team after the break and went close immediately, Leon Goretzka heading a clever Kimmich cross onto the woodwork. The pressure began to tell and Bayern broke through after 63 minutes when Kimmich, among the shortest players on the pitch, was allowed to slip through a crowded Arsenal box and head in a Guerreiro chip.

The hosts almost doubled the tally moments after when Kane found an unmarked Sane in the box, but the Germany winger blasted his shot skywards. Arsenal pushed for an equaliser and went close in stoppage time when Kai Havertz and Bukayo Saka lashed at a bouncing ball in the box but could not break through, ending the visitors’ hopes of a return to the Champions League semis for the first time since 2009. — AFP

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