Borussia Dortmund 1-1 Arsenal: Stunning Ivan Perisic strike denies Gunners priceless win in Germany after Robin van Persie opener
Arsene Wenger's side gain away point against Bundesliga champions following superb late effort, with French boss once again forced to watch his side from the stands
By Andrew Kennedy
Arsenal secured a 1-1 away point against Borussia Dortmund in their first game of the Champions League group stages, after Ivan Perisic’s superb late volley cancelled out Robin van Persie’s first half effort.
Pat Rice stood in for the banned Arsene Wenger on the touchline, with the French boss once again forced to watch his side from the stands as they continued to ride their luck in Europe.
Wenger welcomed Alex Song and Gervinho back into the side in place of Emmanuel Frimpong and Andrey Arshavin respectively, following the duo’s domestic bans, whilst Per Mertesacker, Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun all made their Champions League debuts for the club.
Mario Goetze and Sebastian Kehl returned to the Dortmund starting XI, with both having missed their side’s 2-1 home defeat to Hertha Berlin on Saturday through suspension, as Jurgen Klopp named an otherwise unchanged line-up.
Gervinho was presented with the first clear cut opportunity of the game five minutes in after the ball evaded the Dortmund backline, the ball fell to the Ivorian six-yards out who looked certain to score only for a superb last ditch intervention from Mats Hummels denying him.
The home side were quick on the counter-attack themselves only for Kevin Grosskreutz to fail to take advantage of their extra man and blast his effort over the bar. Shinji Kagawa then split the Arsenal centre-backs neatly to latch on to a superb through-ball but he was also unable to find the target.
The Arsenal defence continued to look suspect as Dortmund grew in confidence, this time Goetze cut through the middle before slotting Robert Lewandowski through on goal, and the Polish forward looked to have given his side the lead after rounding goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny only for Bacary Sagna to clear off the line.
Van Persie cut an isolated figure up top, with his side loose in possession compared to the creative passing of the opposition, and his frustration showed - the Dutch striker snapping at Benayoun’s through ball on the half hour mark, as his early shot from the edge of the box crashed into the side netting.
Lewandowski again went close with a headed effort after 38 minutes for Dortmund, but it was Van Persie who would find the back of the net to give the visitors an unlikely half time lead.
The Arsenal captain capitalised on a string of poor passes from the home team, intercepting Kehl’s lazy cross field ball and finishing superbly to beat Roman Weidenfeller from 20-yards out after 42 minutes, having sprang the offside trap to latch on to Walcott’s through pass.
Battle| Alex Song works hard to win the ball back for his side
Dortmund continued to dominate possession in the early stages of the second half, but clear cut opportunities failed to materialise, with Goetze finding Marcel Schmelzer on the overlap, only for the left-back to blast aimlessly over the goal from an acute angle instead of crossing.
Gervinho was seemingly gifted his second chance of the evening to double Arsenal’s lead, but the former Lille man was unable to beat the on-coming keeper on the hour mark, having done well initially to meet the through ball and stay on his feet under pressure from Neven Subotic.
Klopp introduced Ivan Perisic and Jakub Blaszczykowski in place of Kehl and Grosskreutz with 20 minutes remaining, as the home side began to push for an equaliser, pinning the north Londoners back in their own half.
Fortune continued to side with Wenger’s men in the latter stages, when a Dortmund corner found its way to Subotic in the box ten minutes from time, only for the centre half to strike the ball straight into the arms of Sczezsny from six-yards out.
Yet the German’s search for an equaliser was not to be in vain, when substitute Perisic caught Keiran Gibbs headed clearance superbly on the volley from 25-yards out to bring the home side level.
Lewandowski looked like he was going to grab a late winner for the Bundesliga champions two minutes later but Szczesny was on hand once again to thwart his effort, with the goalkeeper quickly charging off his line to close the striker down.
The late equaliser will no doubt be of disappointment to the away side, but on reflection Wenger will consider his side lucky to have secured a point after they once again looked shaky under pressure.
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