Goals from Poland international Robert Lewandowski and Armenian superstar Henrikh Mkhitaryan ruined Arsene Wenger’s birthday as the Borussia Dortmund clinched a 2-1 win against Arsenal in the Champions League last night at Emirates.
Arsenal gaffer Arsene Wenger turned 64 on the day of the game but Lewandowski played the party spoiler as he netted a 82nd-minute winner at the Emirates Stadium to hand the Gunners their first defeat in Group F this season and end their 12-match unbeaten run across all competitions.
The Gunners trailed to Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s early strike which saw some slack defending from Aaron Ramsey as he was caugh in possession and that Ramsey mistake ultimately landed in back of the net as Arsenal were trailing just 16 minutes into this match.
Arsenal, who moved clear at the top of the Premier League with a 4-1 win over Norwich City last weekend, is used to having it very much its own way this season and faced perhaps the first real test of character.
Giroud showed great strength to out-muscle fullback Marcel Schmelzer and win the ball on the nearside touchline, before cutting back towards the Dortmund box where he was unceremoniously upended by Mats Hummels.
The assistant referee behind the goal was well positioned to correctly signal a free-kick just outside the box, which Laurent Koscielny headed over from Mesut Ozil’s delivery.
Tomas Rosicky clipped a ball through for Jack Wilshere to run onto, but it was just too far ahead of the England man as the hosts started to pull the strings.
However, Wilshere landed awkwardly on his ankle, and immediately fell to the ground before needing treatment off the pitch. He was back on soon enough, but was not able to move freely and frankly he didn’t left any impact on the match from there on.
Then Arsenal had first meaningfull chance of the night, when the ball broke to Giroud on the left, his cutback was fired goalwards by Rosicky, but Hummels cleared off the line.
Arsenal, though, were level five minutes before the break. Ramsey brought the ball forwards and fed Bacary Sagna on the overlap.
His cross in behind the defence caught out Neven Subotic and goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller, with the mix-up allowing Giroud to smash the loose ball into the net.
The match, in the second-half, remained delicately balanced as both sides held good periods of possession, but lacked a decisive ball in the final third.
On 58 minutes, Wilshere was replaced by Cazorla, before Dortmund made a double change as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Jonas Hofmann came on for Jakub Blaszczykowski and Mkhitaryan.
Lewandowski was somewhat fortunate to be still on the pitch as he was only shown a yellow card by referee Jonas Eiksson when he elbowed Koscielny and on replay’s looked to have knowingly caught the defender with a stray elbow.
Arsenal was within inches of taking the lead when Cazorla’s curled effort from 20 yards struck the angle of post and crossbar with the keeper beaten.
Dortmund, though, hit Arsenal on the counter-attack with eight minutes left. The ball was played out to right-back Kevin Grosskreutz on the overlap and his deep cross found Lewandowski on the far post as he smashed it past countryman Szczesny with ease to hand Dortmund all three important points.
Over to Stade Vélodrome where Olympique Marseille hosted Italian giants Napoli and it was visitors who turned out to be victorious thanks to goals from former Real Madrid player Jose Callejon, and Duvan Zapata. While Andrey Ayew netted in a consolation goal for the hosts. Napoli win has made it three way contest as three teams – Arsenal, Napoli and Borussia Dortmund- are on six points after matchday 3.
Napoli welcomed back summer signing Gonzalo Higuain from a hamstring injury but it was fellow attacker Dries Mertens who was at the heart of the visitors’ early threat.
The Belgian forced Steven Mandanda to keep out his early free-kick before angling a shot wide. Napoli, then, should have taken the lead after 35 minutes when Higuain spurned a gilt-edged chance after he and Mertens had been sent one-on-one with OM goalkeeper Mandanda.
Higuain made Napoli’s opener on 42 minutes though when his hooked pass caught the home defence out.
Callejon was on the same page with Argentine striker as he burst forward to chest the ball down before cutting inside and firing in his low shot.
Napoli continued to be in control of the match after the break and were twice appealing for penalties.
Higuain then was replaced by Duvan Zapata and the Colombian made an almost instant impact.
Marek Hamsik’s clever back-heel afforded him just enough space to get a shot off on the edge of the area and with the aid of a deflection the ball beat Mandanda.
Marseille grabbed a lifeline into the game with five minutes left when the Ayew brothers combined.
Jordan Ayew teed up his brother Andre who caught Pepe Reina slightly off guard with a first-time finish that flew into the corner.
No equaliser was forthcoming though as Marseille’s hopes of qualification are almost over.