Arsenal and Athletic Club drew away at Besiktas and Napoli respectively in the first leg of their Champions League play-off ties in what were the two high profile matches of Tuesday.

The English side had midfielder Aaron Ramsey sent off for two impetuous fouls as the two teams fought out a goalless draw in Istanbul’s Ataturk Olympic Stadium. Both the sides wasted gilt-edged opportunities with former Chelsea striker Demba Ba coming close to breaking the deadlock thrice for the Turkish side.

Arsene Wenger had been concerned about the playing surface before kick-off and indeed Arsenal weren’t able to play their usual slick passing game, though they did fashion a glorious chance in the 88th minute when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain saw his shot turned on to the post by goalkeeper Tolga Zengin after a fine save.

Besiktas’ manager Slaven Bilic was sent to the stands towards the end of the game for complaining incessantly to the officials and will miss the second leg at Emirates Stadium on 27 August along with the Welshman.


In Italy, Athletic Club managed to hold off a late rally by Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo to gain a creditable 1-1 draw in which they had taken a deserved lead through Iker Muniain‘s composed finish four minutes before half-time after good work down the right by Oscar de Marcos.

The Spanish club were the better side in the first half and survived a second half onslaught by the Partenopei who equalised after some individual brilliance by Gonzalo Higuain. The Argentine made himself a yard of space after some quick footwork and shot into the bottom right corner.

The Naples outfit should have taken the lead when Jose Callejon went one on one with Iraizoz after being put through by Higuain, but despite the goal at his mercy after he had faked a shot, he contrived to put the ball wide.

Iraizoz then made a wonderful instinctive save to deny Higuain his second goal of the game from point-blank range and the Italians will visit the Basque Country as slight underdogs for the 2nd leg of the tie having conceding the away goal.

Bayer Leverkusen secured a 3-2 comeback win in Denmark after going down 2-1 to FC Copenhagen as all the five goals came in a frenetic first half.

Stefan Kiessling gave his side a 5th minute lead only for Mathias Jorgensen and Daniel Amartey to put the Danish side 2-1 ahead by the 13th minute. Karim Bellarabi and Heung-Min Son scored a goal apiece to give the Germans a solid 3-2 advantage going into their home leg of the tie.

Elsewhere Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg conceded a late away goal to Malmo after being put 2-0 up by Franz Schiemer and Jonathan Soriano. Striker Emil Forsberg scored a late consolation for the Swedish side who have all to play for in the return leg.

Steaua Bucharest beat Bulgarian side Ludogrets Razgrad 1-0 in the last match on Tuesday, as Alexsandru Chipciu played the role of villain-turned-hero by giving the Romanian team a well-deserved lead in the 88th minute, having missed a penalty in the first half.