Arsenal will need to come from behind to reach the Women’s Champions League semi-finals after losing the first leg of their tie with Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.
On a frustrating evening for the Gunners, Lea Schuller’s powerful 39th-minute header gave Bayern the lead.
Jonas Eidevall’s side came close to equalizing on several occasions as they sought their first semi-final appearance in a decade.
Schuller was a standout performer in the first half, chipping just wide.
Bayern’s top scorer beat Laura Wienroither at the back post and thumped her header past Arsenal goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger in the first half as the hosts capitalized on their increasing pressure.
Further chances fell to England international Georgia Stanway, who struck wide from long range for Bayern, while Caitlin Foord curled an effort onto the post just after halftime for Arsenal.
Arsenal’s main threat on the night was Australian Foord, who tested goalkeeper Maria Luisa Grohs twice in the second half before Stina Blackstenius’ looping header and Leah Williamson’s strike were both desperately cleared off the goalline by Bayern.
Arsenal had several penalty appeals turned down because Foord’s first-half shot may have struck a hand, Rafaelle Souza’s shirt may have been pulled back during Blackstenius’ chance, and there appeared to be a deliberate pass back to the goalkeeper after Williamson’s shot was cleared.
The Gunners have lost in the quarter-finals of their previous three European campaigns, but they will hope to avoid the same fate in the second leg at Emirates Stadium on Wednesday, March 29. (kick-off 20:00 BST).
Bayern last advanced to the semi-finals in 2020-21, where they were defeated 5-3 by Chelsea.
“From a performance standpoint, the players were brilliant, brave, and good on the ball,” Arsenal manager Eidevall said.
“They put on a great show for Arsenal in the second half. We will do everything we can to turn this around next week.”
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Despite falling out of a Champions League qualification spot in the Women’s Super League table in recent weeks, Arsenal came into this match with momentum, having impressed in the group stages and winning the League Cup earlier this month.
A 5-1 victory over the eight-time champions Lyon was the highlight for Eidevall’s team, which finished first in Group C with four victories, while Bayern finished second on goal difference to Barcelona, having won all but one of their games.
The Gunners got off to a fast start but were sloppy, with Blackstenius and Frida Maanum squandering chances.
Schuller’s movement caused problems for Arsenal’s defense, and she should have made it 2-0 on the stroke of half-time when she chipped a shot inches wide.
However, Arsenal were far superior in the second half as they sought an equalizer, with Bayern only coming close again in the final minutes when goalkeeper Zinsberger made an impressive double save to deny Maximiliane Rall.
With a potential league decider against rivals Wolfsburg on the horizon, Bayern rested key players Stanway, captain Lina Magull, and goalscorer Schuller before the final whistle – the latter having picked up a knock – but held on impressively against a determined Arsenal late on.
Arsenal will take heart from the number of chances they created in the second half, but their lack of ruthlessness in front of goal has already cost them on too many occasions this season, and they will need to avoid the same at Emirates Stadium next week.