LONDON: Bayern Munich already have one foot decidedly placed in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League after striking down Chelsea 3-0 at Stamford Bridge in their second round first leg.
Serge Gnabry (two) and Robert Lewandowski scored all the goals early in the second half and Chelsea lost even a last faint hope after wingback Marcos Alonso was sent off in the closing stages.
The night’s other match saw Napoli and Barcelona draw 1-1 in a disappointing clash which failed to live up to the pre-match hyerbole about Leo Messi’s first appearance on the San Paolo stage once commanded by Diego Maradona. Barca also finished with 10 men after Arturo Vidal was dismissed for a second yellow card.
In west London former Arsenal youngster Gnabry and arch finisher Lewandowski twice punished Chelsea with deadly one-two combinations.
Gnabry never made the grade at Arsenal despite possessing bundles of talent, but he has flourished into a marauding winger of the highest quality at Bayern. The 24-year-old notched his 16th and 17th goals of an already hugely fruitful club campaign.
Bayern boss Hansi Flick declared Poland’s Lewandowski to be “in the form of his life” in the build-up to this last-16 first leg, and the 31-year-old duly tapped home a Bayern third. That took his season’s tally to 43 goals in 39 games for club and country.
Chelsea’s miserable night was compounded by the red card for Alonso after a VAR review ruled he had caught Lewandowski in the face. The Blues will also be without Jorginho for the return leg in Munich on March 18, after the Italy midfielder picked up a cheap yellow card for dissent.
Barcelona grabbed an important away goal as they came from behind to draw 1-1 at Napoli.
Dries Mertens curled in from 18 yards in the first half to become Napoli’s joint top scorer of all-time, level with Marek Hamsik on 121 goals but Barcelona equalised after 57 minutes when Antoine Griezmann scored from Nelson Semedo’s low cross.
The visitors ended the game with 10 men as Arturo Vidal was sent off in the 89th minute.
Vidal fouled Fabian Ruiz and, after the Napoli man reacted, pushed his head into the midfielder’s face in front of the referee and was shown two yellow cards in quick succession.
He will miss the return as will midfielder Sergio Busquets who picked up a third booking of this season’s tournament. It came early in the second half when, with a foot raised, he caught Mertens, who limped off and had to be replaced.
Barcelona had an injury worry of their own as centre-half Gerard Pique hobbled off in added time at the end of the match with an ankle injury.