Germans crush Gunners

Bayern Munich seized on the uncertainty sweeping through Arsenal to claim a 3-1 victory in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 match on Tuesday, enhancing the German side's status as one of the favorites for the title. Germany internationals Toni Kroos and Thomas Mueller did the early damage with goals in the opening 21 minutes for Bayern a beaten finalist in two of the last three years before Mario Mandzukic sealed victory by bundling in a third in the 77th at Emirates Stadium.

Former Bayern forward Lukas Podolski had given Arsenal hope by making it 2-1 in the 55th but Bayern was well worth the win, and should have scored more in an embarrassingly one-sided first half where the visitors cut through their defensively inept opponents at will.

On current form, perhaps only Barcelona has the beating of Jupp Heynckes' classy team. "Let's not hide the truth,'' Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said, "it will be very difficult. We will try to make the impossible possible.''

The second leg is in Germany on March 13, when Porto will look to defend a first-leg lead after beating Malaga 1-0 in Portugal on Tuesday thanks to Joao Moutinho's 56th-minute goal. Bayern has reacted superbly to the trauma of losing last season's final at Chelsea on penalties at its own Allianz Arena, surging into a 15-point lead in the Bundesliga, qualifying easily from its Champions League group and looking strong thanks to the offseason additions of Mandzukic and defensive midfielder Javi Martinez.

By recently labeling his team as the best in Bayern's history, Heynckes is making a big call. But the Bavarians showed just why they are receiving rave reviews across the continent by outclassing an Arsenal side in the midst of the most trying season of Wenger's 17-year reign.

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