Henry solo show not enough for Gunners

Arsenal 1 Bayern Munich 0

Arsenal were not so much knocked out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich, as suffocated to death as they endured further European frustration.

Bayern, who had seized control of the tie after just three minutes of the first leg which they won 3-1, only fleetingly relaxed their vice-like grip in the second leg.

That was when Thierry Henry struck a sublime shot with 25 minutes left to give Arsenal renewed hope of completing an unlikely comeback.

However, despite winning the second leg 1-0, Arsenal ultimately paid the price for their shocking defensive display in Munich as they went out on aggregate.

And not even Henry could mastermind a one-man comeback amid a performance which was otherwise bereft of attacking creativity.

The Frenchman delivered when it mattered most and ran himself into the ground in search of the second goal that would have clinched victory on away goals, but he was let down by his team-mates.

Indeed, the bitter irony was that Arsenal were supposed to have no trouble in scoring goals, just in keeping them out.

At Highbury, they kept a clean sheet, with Philippe Senderos superb at the back, but they could not score more than once.

How the world has turned. Chelsea now chase a treble, even Liverpool are through, but the two past super-powers of English football Arsenal and Manchester United are left to squabble over the FA Cup.

Bayern nevertheless deserved their victory, having seized the lead after just three minutes in Munich and been in control ever since.

At Highbury, they were immediately in command, with Michael Ballack's fierce shot blocked by Patrick Vieira, while Mathieu Flamini came perilously close to conceding a penalty with a tackle on Hasan Salihamidzic.

Arsenal, meanwhile, were making virtually no attacking headway of their own, with Bayern quickly closing them down in midfield and cutting their supply lines.

The best that Wenger's side could hope for after such a poor start was that Bayern would be lulled into a false sense of security. Some hope.

Bayern continued to press, with Sebastian Deisler's attempted lob held by Jens Lehmann, but at long last Arsenal began to rally just as the interval approached.

Henry was, unsurprisingly, the catalyst as he embarked on a charging run that was ended by Oliver Kahn's block from a tight angle.

At least there were finally signs of life but, despite a little more adventure after the restart, Arsenal were still finding it desperately hard to make the breakthrough.

Vieira's volley not only sped past the far post but was also just too far away for Dennis Bergkamp to convert from close range.

Wenger badly needed inspiration and it was little surprise to see Robert Pires summoned from the bench for the ineffective Jose Antonio Reyes, while Cesc Fabregas' creativity replaced Flamini's industry.

That was with 26 minutes remaining, but just 60 seconds later there was suddenly renewed hope as Henry rose to the occasion with a goal of simply stunning quality.

The Frenchman brought down Ashley Cole's long ball on his instep and then swivelled in an instant to catch Kahn off-guard as his shot sped inside the far post.

The striker may be criticised by some sceptics for not producing on the big occasions but this was a big occasion and that was a superb strike.

Henry could, however, not inspire Arsenal alone and while Lehmann produced a superb save to deny Ballack, the onus was on the home side to score again.

Kolo Toure, who had scored a late lifeline in Munich, saw a header tipped over the bar by Kahn, while Bergkamp shot just wide amid some concerted late pressure. However, it was simply too little, too late as Bayern held on and Arsenal were again out of Europe before even the quarter-finals. No wonder Henry has trouble smiling.

ARSENAL: Lehmann; Lauren, Toure, Senderos, Cole, Ljungberg (Van Persie 80), Flamini (Fabregas 63), Vieira, Reyes (Pires 63), Bergkamp, Henry.

BAYERN MUNICH: Kahn; Sagnol, Lucio, Kovac, Lizarazu, Demichelis, Salihamidzic (Hargreaves 90), Deisler (Ze Roberto 72), Ballack, Guerrero (Linke 85), Pizarro.

Referee: Massimo De Santis (Italy).

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