London: For an hour Arsenal were at least salvaging some pride against Bayern Munich, then the ceiling came crashing down as they exited the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday with a matching pair of 5-1 defeats against the merciless Bundesliga giants.
A second half capitulation after captain Laurent Koscielny was sent off resulted in Arsenal conceding five goals for the first time at their Emirates Stadium as they suffered their worst home defeat for 19 years.
Arsenal were making a decent fight of it when Theo Walcott smashed in after 20 minutes. But from the moment Koscielny was red-carded and Lewandowski converted the resulting penalty in the 55th minute, Arsenal’s belief ebbed and Carlo Ancelotti’s side ran amok with Arjen Robben, Douglas Costa and Arturo Vidal (2) piling on the agony.
By the end Bayern were threatening to surpass the 12-1 aggregate score they piled up against Sporting Lisbon in 2009 but had to be content with a 10-2 margin that sent an ominous warning to whoever they face in the quarterfinals.
Before kick-off some Arsenal fans staged a small protest calling for manager Arsene Wenger to end his 21-year reign at the club. Those calls will grow louder now after a seventh successive exit at the last 16 stage of the Champions League.
Yet Wenger was belligerent afterwards. “I felt that we produced a performance with spirit and pride that we wanted and after that the story finished badly,” Wenger told reporters. “The fact the end result will not highlight the quality of our performance is very disappointing.”