For a while there it looked like Manuel Neuer’s superhero saves would keep a surprisingly dominant Arsenal off the scoresheet. By the end, though, the Gunners wound up sneaking the ball past Neuer twice—not with moments of brilliance, but by bungling the ball over the line by any means necessary.
The first goal was the ugliest. From a free kick near midfield, Santi Cazorla chipped a high cross into the box. As the ball neared the penalty area, Laurent Koscielny seemed to be the most likely Arsenal player to make contact and leapt for the header. Neuer came out to try to punch it away, but as he jumped to swing, Koscielny’s mistimed jump and the surrounding bodies probably confused him, leading neither player to make any contact.
At the same time, a little further behind those two, stood a hunched over Olivier Giroud. He had been setting up for a speculative header, guessing at the ball’s potential trajectory in the unlikely case that nobody nearer to it connected with it first. Somehow, though, it did drop more or less where he expected, and largely unbeknownst to him, some combination of his head and his arm deflected the ball towards goal. Between the mass of bodies obscuring the view and the ball’s slow, bouncing path into the net, you couldn’t really tell that Giroud had scored what would probably be the winner until the players started celebrating:
The second goal was better from an intentionality standpoint, though was even more confusing. Chasing the equalizer deep into stoppage time, Bayern tried moving the ball forward as quickly as possible. On such outlet pass was headed toward Bayerns left wing before Hector Bellerín—who, despite how good he’s been, might’ve missed his true calling as an Olympic sprinter—flew in from out of nowhere and intercepted it.
He continued bombing his way into the box. In the resulting 3-on-3, Bellerín hit a perfect cross over to Mesut Özil, who had basically an open net to fire into. Özil didn’t have time to remember how much he hates to shoot and redirected the cross towards goal. However, Neuer wasn’t done with the superhero act and pounded the ball out with his fists before it hit the net. The ensuing rebound fell to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. His rushed shot hit the ground, then bounced over the crossbar.
Right when it seemed like Neuer had yet again pulled a golden-haired rabbit nibbling a four-leaf clover out of his hat, Arsenal’s players were off on the sideline piling onto Özil. Turns out, the referee had (correctly, and without the aid of goal-line technology) signaled that the German’s original shot had in fact crossed the line.
The quality of these two goals does a bit of a disservice to just how thoroughly Arsenal beat down the best team in the world. While Arsenal had only 26% of possession and completed almost 500 fewer passes than Bayern, the Gunners had by far the better chances and probably should’ve won by even more.
One interpretation of this game is that Arsenal cynically parked the bus and nicked two gritty goals, one on a set piece, another on the counter. But this win was more than that, even if the goals themselves don’t show it.
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