Bayern Munich all but secured their place in the Champions League quarter-finals with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Serge Gnabry scored twice and Robert Lewandowski, who assisted both of Gnabry's strikes, also found the net for the German champions as they dominated throughout against a sub-par Blues, who never looked like taking a positive result to Bavaria.
Bayern largely dictated proceedings in the opening period, and coach Hansi Flick would perhaps have been disappointed not to see them in front at the break.
Robert Lewandowski was twice denied by Willy Caballero and Thomas Muller hit the bar with an impudent backwards header.
Thiago and Joshua Kimmich were largely on the front foot for the visitors in midfield, but a fine counter did produce a chance for the hosts at the end of the half, with Marcos Alonso forcing Manuel Neuer into a fine diving save down to his left at the other.
Then, within 10 minutes of the second half, Gnabry had taken the game away from the hosts.
The former Arsenal winger scored twice in little more than three minutes, both times assisted by Lewandowski after smart one-twos between the pair, to put Bayern in command of the tie.
On neither occasion did Gnabry – who scored four against Spurs on his last trip to London – look like doing anything other than find the back of the net.
Alphonso Davies, outstanding throughout at left-back, charged to the byline with 14 minutes remaining and teed up Lewandowski to get a goal of his own, before Alonso was dismissed following a VAR review having initially been yellow carded.
Combined, it all leaves Frank Lampard's men needing to climb a mountain when they head to the Allianz Arena in three weeks time.
Here are five talking points from Stamford Bridge.
1. The Caballero-Kepa conundrum
Jamie Carragher recently said that, regardless of what happens with Kepa Arrizabalaga long term – the Spaniard not in favour under Frank Lampard – Willy Caballero is not the answer for Chelsea.
And that much is true, the Argentine is very much a No.2.
But he's justifying Lampard's decision to prefer him over the Spaniard right now and did so here again.
There was nothing he could do about the goals on a night where he was solid, and quick off his line to deny Lewandowski twice in the first period.
As for Kepa, it doesn't look like his manager rates him all that much.
2. Three minutes, 22 seconds
Serge Gnabry now has six goals in the Champions League this season.
Only Erling Haaland and Lewandowski have bagged more, and yet curiously, all of Gnabry's have come in two games in London.
Both finishes here were clinical from the Germany international, the link play with Lewandowski absolutely filthy in its brillance, coming just three minutes and 22 seconds apart.
That was enough to take the game away from the home side and all but secure a quarter-final spot for the 2013 winners.
Oh, and Gnabry's latest feat of goalscoring means the man once deemed 'not at the level to play for West Bromwich Albion' by Tony Pulis – and, in truth, he wasn't at that time – has now scored as many goals in London this season as Arsenal's current No.9, Alexandre Lacazette.
3. Chelsea lose their heads
This was another naive display from Chelsea.
At half-time, they were well in this encounter. Yes Bayern had been the better side, but they remained level, having not been pierced by the away side.
But then, did they get ahead of themselves? Because within 10 minutes of the second half starting, this tie was effectively over after Gnabry's double.
Both times, there was far too much space for Gnabry and Lewandowski to attack and into which do damage. Even with five at the back, the gaps were enormous.
There was also Jorginho's stupid yellow card for arguing – ruling him out of the return leg – and Alonso's late red card.
Certainly Chelsea lost this on the pitch, but they were found wanting mentally as well.
4. Back en vogue Muller enjoying himself
Muller, 30, had a pretty miserable 2019.
He found himself dumped by his country and spent much of the first part of this season largely overlooked and seemingly destined to be little more than a bit-part player under Niko Kovac.
But since Flick took charge, der Raumdeuter has been very much back en vogue at the Allianz Arena.
He has started 2020 well too, with three goals and three assists in six Bundesliga games since the winter break.
Chelsea struggled to get to grips with his movement in the early throes here, and he went close with a cheeky header while facing away from goal.
He seems to have a spring back in his step and was a problem throughout for Chelsea's defence, despite them operating with three centre-halves.
Source: Read Full Article