KEIR RADNEDGE in MUNICH: Both managers Jupp Heynckes and Arsene Wenger were talking about a “wake-up call” after Bayern Munich were losers and winners against Arsenal here last night in the UEFA Champions League.
Bayern, 3-1 first leg winners three weeks ago in north London, progressed to the quarter-finals despite losing 2-0 at home to the Gunners who struck early and (too) late through Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny. The runaway Bundesliga leaders won on only the away goals rule with a 3-3 aggregate.
In the last minutes Thomas Muller and Arjen Robben were reduced scrufily to running the ball down into a corner to maintain the overall advantage for a Bayern side who appeared discomfited by the context of the match and the gathering pressure of their own unfolding European ambitions.
Heynckes, who steps aside in favour of Pep Guardiola at the season’s end, considered the result – and the performance of his team – of a sharp lesson about the dangers of overconfidence while Wenger, Arsenal having just followed England’s other three candidates out of the competition, talked of lessons for the Premier League.
This season is the first since 1996 that English football has had no club interest (noting David Beckham at Paris Saint-Germain) in Europe’s premier competition at the last -eight stage.
Wenger, who may now struggle to maintain his record of a perpetual presence in the Champions League, said: “The rest of Europe has caught up on us. We have to take that into consideration when we think about the future of the Premier League. It is a massive disappointment for English football, for a number of years we are not used to that.
“It is a massive wake-up call for us because we had ManchesterCity, Manchester United, Chelsea and us all out before the quarter-finals.”
“We were under pressure I believe because a bad performance could have been terrible for the morale of the team and for pride as well, but the regret I have is that there’s potential in the team yet we are out of the competition.”
Heynckes, former Champions League coaching winner with Real Madrid back in 1998, said: “We did not play anything near the way we can or should. Of course we cannot be expected to win every game but the way we played was disappointing.”
Robbe, echoing his coach, said: “Perhaps this reminder came at just the right time for us.”
Former Bayern striker Roque Santa Cruz scored the second goal after 78 minutes as Malaga, surprisingly, beat Porto 2-0 (and 2-1 on aggregate) to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in their history. Isco scored the first goal shortly before half-time.
The draw is on Friday.
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