Arsenal beat Bayern Munich as 'intense' Gunners go route one
Wenger admits his team was forced to use long balls against Germans but says victory was an 'absolute necessity'
Arsenal 2 Bayern Munich 0
Two late goals secured Arsenal their first win in the Champions League this season and kept alive their faint hopes of reaching the last 16. Having lost their first two group games to Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiakos, the Gunners had to beat favourites Bayern Munich at the Emirates if they were to have any hope of maintaining their record of reaching the knockout stage for the 16th consecutive season.
It looked like it could be a long evening for Arsenal as the German visitors dominated the early possession but Petr Cech - starting in goal after David Ospina's disastrous error against Olympiakos - was in fine form, saving well from Thiago Alcantara and Arturo Vidal.
But Arsenal were creating chances of their own at the other end and Manuel Neuer produced one sensational save to deny Theo Walcott, the Bayern keeper getting a hand to the England forward's header to prevent what seemed a certain goal.
Goalless it remained until 77 minutes when Olivier Giroud scrambled the ball into the net from close range after an uncharacteristic error from Neuer. Failing to deal with Santi Cazorla's free-kick, the German goalkeeper allowed Giroud the chance to bundle the ball over the line for his fourth goal this season as a substitute.
Arsenal doubled their advantage at the death as Hector Bellerin's cross was put away by Mesut Ozil, the goal awarded by match officials despite claims by Neuer that he had kept the ball from crossing the goal line.
Praising Arsenal's "team focus and dynamic", manager Arsene Wenger said: "We had an absolute necessity to win the game and we did it in an intense and disciplined way... Bayern had more possession than us but we decided to make it tight in our final third and catch them on the break. The last part of the game where we went longer and used long balls we could play more in their half and they struggled."
Though Bayern dominated Arsenal, having 19 attempts to the Gunners' 13, winning 11 corners and enjoying 68 per cent possession, they were unable to breach the Arsenal defence, just as Watford and Manchester United were earlier in the month in the Premier League. "We won 3-0 against Manchester United, 3-0 against Watford and 2-0 tonight so it is important we have a good balance between defending well and attacking well," explained Wenger. "As long as we defend well and score goals then the balance is right."
Despite the victory, Arsenal remain bottom of Group F and still face an uphill struggle to reach the Last 16. Olympiakos defeated Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 on Tuesday evening to leave them level with Bayern on six points while the Gunners and the Croatians both have half that number.
Arsenal therefore require points from their three remaining group games, starting with the daunting trip to the Allianz Arena on 4 November to face Bayern. They then host Dinamo a fortnight later before finishing their campaign with a trip to Olympiakos on 9 December. Asked about Arsenal's chances of reaching the knockout phase of the competition, Wenger replied: "We need a result at Bayern."
His Bayern counterpart, Pep Guardiola, was magnanimous in defeat, telling reporters: "We had chances to win but congratulations to Arsenal. In the Champions League you need to be perfect in every aspect. There were some areas where we weren't today. We came here to close our qualification and we could not do that so we now have to go to the next game."