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AFP
February 27, 2020

Champions League Bayern rout Chelsea

Sports

AFP
February 27, 2020

LONDON: Serge Gnabry fired Bayern Munich to the brink of the Champions League quarter-finals as the German’s double inspired a superb 3-0 rout of Chelsea in the last-16 first leg at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Gnabry had tormented Tottenham Hotspur with four goals in Bayern’s 7-2 victory in north London earlier this season and the former Arsenal winger returned to the English capital to push Chelsea to the brink of elimination.

The 24-year-old’s time with Arsenal was a disappointment and he even flopped during a loan spell at West Bromwich Albion.

But he has been reborn with Bayern and his two goals in the space of three minutes left Hansi Flick’s side within touching distance of the last eight.

Robert Lewandowski got Bayern’s third before Chelsea defender Marcos Alonso was sent off in the 83rd minute.

Chelsea will need another Munich miracle in the second leg on March 18 to overturn the deficit at the Allianz Arena, where they famously beat the German club in the 2012 Champions League final.

Bayern set the tone when Thomas Mueller forced a save from Willy Caballero inside the first minute after stealing possession from Jorginho.

Flick had warned Chelsea that Lewandowski was in the “form of his life” and the Bayern striker escaped Andreas Christensen for a stinging shot that Caballero blocked with his face.

Bayern’s pressure was mounting and Mueller drifted onto Gnabry’s cross to flick a back header against the bar.

Bayern deservedly took the lead in the 51st minute with a superbly crafted goal.

Gnabry’s deft control and pass sent Lewandowski into the Chelsea area and when he cut the ball back, his team-mate made a perfectly-timed run to fire low past Caballero.

Lewandowski nodded onto Gnabry, took the return pass from the winger and played a sublime through ball to Gnabry, who had accelerated away from the Chelsea defence to guide a cool finish into the far corner.

Bayern weren’t finished yet and Lewandowski became the first Bayern player to score in six consecutive Champions League matches when he tapped in from Alphonso Davies’s 76th-minute cross for his 39th goal of the season.

In Naples, Antoine Griezmann rescued a 1-1 draw for Barcelona at Napoli in the first leg on Tuesday.

Frenchman Griezmann struck just before the hour mark in Naples after Dries Mertens had put the hosts ahead in the 30th minute with his 121st Napoli goal, drawing level with Marek Hamsik as the club’s all-time top scorer.

Barcelona ended the game with 10 men after Arturo Vidal was sent off with two minutes to go after picking up two yellow cards, following an angry clash with Napoli defender Mario Rui.