Two goals from Serge Gnabry and one from Robert Lewandowski have given Chelsea a big hill to climb in the second leg of this Round of 16 tie if we are to stay in the Champions League.
Gnabry, the former Arsenal winger who had done plenty of damage to Tottenham on a previous visit to London earlier this season, finished off two good moves early in the second half and from that point onwards, there was no way back for Chelsea in this particular match, emphasised late on when the in-form Lewandowski finished off a counter-attack with a tap-in.
As well as the deficit of the three away goals conceded, the game in Bavaria will be faced without Jorginho and Marcos Alonso who will both serve suspensions, the latter following a red card tonight.
In the first half of what at that stage was a typically edgy contest for a first leg, Bayern had hit the bar with a header from their 2012 Champions League final scorer Thomas Muller, and Willy Caballero in the Chelsea goal was busy in keeping Lewandowski at bay, but the Blues had their moments too with Alonso threatening to repeat his goal against Spurs at the weekend when he had a shot saved just before half-time.
Once our opponents had taken the lead however, their control on the game tightened and we were limited to an off-target Mason Mount shot and a couple of balls across the face of goal in our attempt to gain a stronger foothold in the tie. Alonso’s sending off for catching Lewandowski with his arm came with six minutes left on the clock.
The Blues had been unlocked by some incisive attacking play by our experienced opponents, part of our steep learning curve.
Goalless before the break
On the eve of the game, Frank Lampard predicted Chelsea would have to do a lot of work without the ball against the in-form German champions, but although the first half possession was shared out two-to-one in Bayern’s favour, the boss must have been fairly happy we had troubled their goal as much as they did ours in the first half, with the shots statistics pretty much even.
There was an early save from Muller by Caballero before Mount, playing the first Champions League knockout match of his life, had the first Chelsea shot which went over. The 21-year-old had another deflected wide soon after following a flick-on by Oliver Giroud.
Caballero continued to keep them out
Ten minutes into the game, Kingsley Coman wasted a good opportunity for the Germans when he hit the sidenetting and Caballero was in the right place to block a Lewandowski effort with his face when this season’s Champions League topscorer had his first go for goal.
Reece James tested the Bayern defence with a cross, which won a corner that was met by Giroud but without the power to beat Manuel Neuer.
Though Bayern were having the greater share of possession, the few moments of danger were more evenly shared out and Ross Barkley sent a ball towards the far post midway through the first half that evaded Neuer, but with no Chelsea player gambling on a run it went out harmlessly.
Caballero then had the better of Lewandowski twice in quick succession as the Pole chased two through balls. Our goalkeeper’s second intervention was especially brave.
He was soon diving to his left as Muller let fly from distance and the fans behind that goal at the Matthew Harding End were pleased to see a powerful shot go wide.
Just past the half-hour came the best Chelsea pressure so far, culminating in Mount flashing a ball across the six-yard box which Giroud’s leg could not quite reach. Almost immediately, Muller was heading against the Chelsea bar at the other end of the pitch.
Three minutes before half-time it took a sharp Neuer save to prevent Chelsea taking the lead through Marcos Alonso. Superb play from Mateo Kovacic was followed by our left wing-back sending Benjamin Pavard the wrong way before his shot was stopped by the German international.
Two quick goals conceded
Early in the second half, Chelsea were asking ourselves how we hadn’t found the net when Mount was away but was battled off the ball before making a clean strike, and Barkley then hit it straight at Neuer as he followed up. VAR might have ruled Mount offside anyway.
Following that, the game turned firmly in Bayern’s direction with two goals in three minutes. Both came from swift moves, the first allowing Lewandowski to centre for Gnabry to finish first time from close range and the second when our defences were outmanoeuvred down our right and the same player picked out the far bottom corner with his shot across Caballero.
Gnabry could have had a hat-trick not long after but blasted over the bar. Before that Jorginho earned the booking that rules him out of the second leg for taking a protest to the ref too far.
Tammy Abraham and Willian were brought on for the final half hour and there was almost a gift that came our way when Kimmich’s ball out from the back was intercepted by Mount but he missed with his drive at goal. Later on there was frustration when Alonso could not get on the end of a well-struck Willian cross.
Bayern’s third came with 76 minutes played when full-back Alphonso Davies escaped the attention of several Chelsea players. Lewandowski waiting at the far post for his 11th goal of this Champions League campaign had a simple task.
Abraham did not make the most of a Pedro ball across the Bayern goal shortly before the Alonso red card, which was originally a yellow but was upgraded by a VAR review by the ref, completed a difficult night for Blues.
When’s the second leg?
It’s a wait of just over three weeks until we play the return match in Bavaria, on Wednesday 18 March. It will be our first visit to the Allianz Arena since that magical Champions League final win in May 2012.
When naming his team Frank Lampard kept faith with the side that beat Spurs on Saturday. He therefore handed Willy Caballero his Champions League debut for Chelsea although the Argentinian has plenty of experience in the competition from his time with Man City and Malaga. Giroud continued as the centre-forward, the spearhead of an attacking three, with three men selected at the back as well.
Record against German teams
An unbeaten home run ended with tonight’s result. The Blues had not lost to a German club at Stamford Bridge before but now have seven wins, three draws and this one defeat in the 11 games against sides from that country.
From Stamford Bridge to the south coast of England and a visit to Bournemouth in the Premier League on Saturday. Many of the Chelsea squad still carry the scars of a 4-0 defeat there last season and we lost at home to the Cherries earlier this season, so there is plenty to put right and three points would be most welcome on a weekend when many of the teams around us in the table play each other. Bournemouth are currently 16th in the table.
Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Caballero; Azpilicueta (c) (Pedro 73), Christensen, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso; Barkley (Willian 61), Mount; Giroud (Abraham 61)
Unused subs Kepa, Zouma, Emerson, Gilmour
Sent off Alonso 83
Booked Jorginho 48
Bayern (4-2-3-1): Neuer (c); Pavard, Boateng, Alaba, Davies; Thiago (Goretzka 90), Kimmich; Gnabry (Tolisso 85), Muller, Coman (Coutinho 66); Lewandowski
Unused subs Ulreich, Odriozola, Hernandez, Zirkzee
Scorers Gnabry 51, 54, Lewandowski 76
Booked Thiago 45+1, Kimmich 50
Referee Clement Turpin from France