Bayern Munich took a massive step towards the last 16 of the Champions League with a resounding 3-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Serge Gnabry bagged a brace, and Robert Lewandowski netted his first European knockout goal in two years as the German champions came away from London with a three-goal advantage.
Chelsea’s misery was compounded with five minutes remaining when Marcos Alonso was shown a red card – upgraded from a yellow following a VAR review – for an off the ball incident with Lewandowski.
Jorginho’s yellow card also rules the Italian midfielder out of the second leg in the German capital, leaving Frank Lampard’s men needing a miracle in Munich.
Bayern have won all seven games in this year’s competition, and have taken their tally to 28 goals in their last seven games against English clubs.
For the second time this season, Bundesliga giants Bayern have embarrassed Premier League opposition in London.
They have scored 10 goals in two visits to the English capital in this season’s Champions League, picking up two emphatic victories and conceding just two goals.
Incredibly, Gnabry has scored six of those 10 goals.
The German international is the first player in Champions League history to score his first six goals in the competition against opponents from the same nation.
That’s six more than he managed in nine appearances for Arsenal in north London between 2012 and 2014.
The 24-year-old is also only the second player in the tournament’s history to score away at two different London clubs in the same season in the competition after Luis Figo notched goals against Arsenal and Chelsea in London in the 1999-2000 season.
Gnabry scored a crucial brace at Stamford Bridge, condemning Chelsea to their heaviest ever margin of defeat in a home game in European competition, and proving that his four-goal performance against Spurs in Bayern’s devastating 7-2 victory in October was no anomaly.
— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) February 25, 2020
For a player once deemed not good enough for West Brom, Gnabry has long since silenced his doubters.
Bayern roared into life in the second half, with Gnabry breaking Chelsea’s resolve six minutes after the interval.
The winger capitalized on a slip by Cesar Azpilicueta and fed Lewandowski down the left flank.
Lewandowski, who now has nine away goals in this season’s Champions League, cut the ball back for Gnabry to clinically slot it past Willy Caballero from 10 yards.
Chelsea scarcely had time to recover before Gnabry struck again, just three minutes after his first goal.
Gnabry played the ball out wide to Lewandowski on the left, before collecting the prolific Polish striker’s clever return pass in the box.
Without breaking stride, the former Gunner coolly side-footed the ball across Caballero into the far bottom corner.
Lewandowski, already with two assists to his name, added to his staggering goals tally with Bayern’s third in the 76th minute.
The brilliant Alphonso Davies rampaged forward from left back, hurdling a challenge on the left wing before putting a low cross on a plate for Lewandowski to tap home.
Chelsea will return to the Allianz Arena with fond memories, having beaten Bayern there in the 2012 Champions League final, but the Blues are likely to come away from Munich with anything other than nostalgia.
Gnabry has now scored 17 goals this season, as well as providing 10 assists from the wing.
He has terrorized both Spurs and Chelsea on the biggest stage, but perhaps it is another London club who should be most haunted by his exploits.
Arsenal sold the German, who has scored 13 international goals in as many games for his country, to Werder Bremen in 2016 for just £5 million.
Having signed Gnabry as a 15-year-old from Stuttgart for £100,000, the Gunners eventually allowed the winger to return to Germany after a hugely disappointing loan spell at West Brom.
Gnabry managed just 18 appearances and one goal in his spell at the Emirates, but has blossomed into one of Europe’s most dangerous wingers.
“He’s one of the top three, top five wingers in the world after being told he’s been told five or six years ago he’s not good enough for a mediocre Premier League football team,” Gnabry’s comptatriot Didi Hamann noted on RTÉ after the game.
“It just goes to show that these things are possible in football.”