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UEFA Champions League

  • 28 September 2011
  • • 19:45
  • • Emirates Stadium, London
  • Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo
  • • Attendance: 59676

Arsenal 2-1 Olympiakos: Oxlade-Chamberlain becomes youngest English Champions League scorer as Santos’ first strike edges out Greeks

Arsenal 2-1 Olympiakos: Oxlade-Chamberlain becomes youngest English Champions League scorer as Santos’ first strike edges out Greeks

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New summer signings on the score sheet as the Gunners maintain impressive European form, with the game's outcome decided in the first half

Arsenal youngster Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain announced himself on the European stage as he became the youngest ever English goalscorer in the Champions League during the Gunners' 2-1 victory over Greek side Olympiakos.

The clash also revealed the Emirates side’s defensive weaknesses, as they failed to cope with the visitors attacks and were bailed out by goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, who helped the Premier League side secure all three points.

The victory, secured by a first half strike from full-back Andre Santos, sees the north London side go clear in second place in Group F.

Arsene Wenger decided to leave out both Aaron Ramsey and Robin Van Persie in preparation for the North London derby against bitter rivals Tottenham on Sunday, with Oxlade-Chamberlain getting his first start in Europe’s elite competition.

The visitors almost silenced the Emirates crowd within the first couple of minutes, as Ljubomir Fejsa drove down the right wing, before crossing to find David Fuster in space, but the Spaniard could not find a way past Szczesny in the Arsenal goal, as the ball went wide of the keeper’s left-hand post.

With less than eight minutes on the clock Arsenal went into the lead, as makeshift centre-half Alex Song found youngster Oxlade-Chamberlain who beat a couple of Olympiakos defenders, before stroking the ball beyond Franco Costanzo and into the net.

The Gunners then had a chance to double their lead as a corner kick from Mikel Arteta found Marouane Chamakh in the middle of the penalty area, but he failed to get his header on target.

Olympiakos should have got back on level terms just before the quarter of an hour mark, as Fejsa had a shot blocked after a well worked corner, but the ball broke to Rafik Djebbour inside the six yard box, who failed with two attempts, firstly due to Arteta's block, before he shot wide with the rebound.

Arsenal were awoken by the visitors brief spell of pressure, and pushed forward and took full command of the game as Andre Santos dashed down the left wing before crossing, only to double the Gunner's lead himself after the ball was rebounded back to him.

Chamakh should have scored minutes later, as he sprung the offside trap, getting on the end of a ball over the top by Andrey Arshavin, but he failed to find the target once again as his strike went wide of Costanzo’s left-hand post.

That did not stop the visitors as they searched for a way back into the game, and they were ultimately rewarded as a short corner involving Kevin Mirallas and Ariel Ibagaza saw the experienced Argentinean cross for the unmarked Fuster to head home to cut the deficit.

The Greek side then had another two opportunities to level the contest, as firstly Djebbour had a strike from the right-hand side of the penalty area which Szczesny diverted for a corner.

Then captain Vassilis Torossidis had a chance for an equaliser as Arsenal once again failed to notice a short corner from the visitors, but the centre-half’s chance was blocked and eventually cleared away by the home defence to safety.

Arsenal nearly handed the Greek’s a leveller moments later as Bacary Sagna lost the ball at right-back, allowing Mirallas a free run at goal, but he couldn’t find a way to get his side back into the game.

For the remainder of the half the Gunners looked to get forward, but they couldn’t find a way to penetrate the Olympiakos defence and get a two goal cushion going into the break as the visitors backline managed to stand tall.

Chamber goal | Oxlade-Chamberlain gets his first in the Champions League

The away side nearly opened the second half with an equaliser as Fuster found Mirallas with a free kick, and from the edge of the area he stuck a shot that had Szczesny scrambling to his left-hand side as the ball went just wide.

Moments later Oxlade-Chamberlain had a chance to claim his second of the game as he was found racing towards the penalty box by Chamakh, but unfortunately for the winger, he could not find the target as Costanzo managed to save with his chest to prevent his side from going two behind.

The Gunners continued to build pressure, with chances coming the way of Arshavin, Chamakh and Arteta, but neither of them could find a way past the Olympiakos defence as they looked to secure all three points.

The Greek side then had a superb chance to get on level terms as Djebbour found his captain Torossidis on the right wing, who then cut inside and whipped a vicious shot that cannoned off of Szczesny’s bar, with the Pole scrambling and away to safety.

In an attempt to secure a third goal and the victory, Arsenal decided to make a change as the impressive Oxlade-Chamberlain was taken off to be replaced by Ramsey in the Gunners midfield.

They nearly achieved that goal as Ramsey found the onrushing Arshavin, who managed to beat his defender before getting a shot off, which Costanzo managed to clear away from danger to keep his side only one goal down.

Then in a further statement of intent, the Gunners introduced Van Persie for the ineffectual Chamakh, in an attempt to pry open the Olympiakos defence and kill the game off as a contest.

With 10 minutes remaining in the game, Arsenal could have sealed the victory after Van Persie won a free kick on the left wing, which Arteta curled towards goal, with Costanzo punching the ball clear to safety for the Greek outfit.     

Wenger’s side managed to hold on for the reminder of the game to maintain their impressive home form in European competition at the Emirates Stadium. 

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