Serge Gnabry celebrated with his NBA-inspired ‘stir the pot’ gesture after scoring two goals in Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final against Lyon to keep Bayern Munich on course to repeat their 2013 treble after a 3-0 victory.
Robert Lewandowski added the third goal for his 55th of the season to keep Bayern on course to add a sixth Champions League title to their Bundesliga and German Cup triumphs.
Seconds after a shot by Lyon forward Karl Ekambi hit Bayern’s post, Gnabry opened the scoring with a stunning piece of skill in the 18th minute.
After trapping Joshua Kimmich’s long-range pass, he cut in from the right wing, beat two defenders and powered his shot out of reach of Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.
Gnarby, 25, then doubled Bayern’s lead on 33 minutes by tapping home after Lopes parried a Lewandowksi shot.
His brace leaves Gnabry on nine Champions League goals this season, including four in Bayern’s stunning 7-2 demolition of Tottenham in the group stages.
After Bayern’s goal romp at Tottenham last October, Gnabry, a former Arsenal winger could not resist tweeting “North London is RED!!!”.
He netted two more goals in London last February in a 3-0 win at Chelsea in the last 16, first leg tie. Gnabry also scored Bayern’s third in Friday’s jaw-dropping 8-2 rout of Barcelona in the quarter-finals and has now scored 23 goals in 45 games in all competitions.
Gnabry is this season’s third-highest scorer in the Champions League behind Lewandowski (15) and Dortmund teenager Erling Braut Haaland (10). However, there was a time not too far back when he was not considered good enough West Brom.
Not good enough for West Brom
Born in Stuttgart, Gnabry joined the Bundesliga club when he was 12.
From Stuttgart’s academy, where he played alongside future Germany team-mates Timo Werner and Joshua Kimmich, Gnabry’s performances attracted Arsenal.
He joined the Gunners after his 16th birthday in 2011 and was promoted to Arsenal’s reserves after less than a season with the Under-18 squad.
“I went to England because everyone told me not to go, that I couldn’t make it. I wanted that challenge,” Gnabry says of his time in north London.
After only a handful off appearances for Arsenal, Gnabry spent 2015-’16 on loan at West Bromwich Albion before being selected for Germany’s Olympic team.
His spell at the midlands club was a forgettable one and nobody saw him reaching the heights that he did today. Then manager Tony Pulis suggested that the youngster was not at the level of West Brom.
Arsenal then sold the young German for just £5 million to Werder Bremen after he failed to make a mark in England. Gnabry has made them regret that decision on several occasions this season.
Move back to Germany
He won a silver medal, aged 21, and finished joint top-scorer with six goals at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games as Germany lost to the Neymar-led Brazil in the final.
His senior debut followed in November 2016 with a hat-trick at minnows San Marino in Germany’s 8-0 away romp in a World Cup qualifier. He returned to Germany for 2016-’17 with Werder Bremen where he scored 11 goals in 27 appearances for the Bundesliga strugglers.
Bayern bought him in 2017, but immediately loaned him to Hoffenheim, before Gnabry joined the German giants permanently for 2018-’19. He has replaced Arjen Robben, whose winning goal in the London final gave Bayern their last Champions League title in 2013.
On the cusp of glory
Gnabry is now a Champions League finalist himself but is keen to go a step ahead and be a Champions League winner. The turnaround in his fortunes is simply stunning.
“We really want to win the final. That will be the deciding factor, we will give our all to win the treble,” Gnabry said with an eye on Sunday’s final in Lisbon against Paris Saint-Germain.
If Saturday’s match was anything to go by, Serge Gnabry will take some stopping. Anyway, he’s come a long way and a single match is not going to stop his surge, or ‘Serge’ as they say it.
(With inputs from AFP)