Croatian substitute volleyed home a wonder goal to earn a point for German champions after English appeared to have done enough to take three points
Robin Van Persie struck for the English side at the end of the first half, but Ivan Perisic drew the visitors level shortly before full-time in what proved to be a thrilling affair.
After numerous chances were squandered by both sides, Van Persie put the Gunners ahead in the 42nd minute after pouncing on an error by Sebastian Kehl, who made just his third start in more than a year. The Dutchman's goal appeared to be enough for the Gunners to claim the spoils, but in the 88th minute, substitute Perisic fired a looping volley into the top-right corner of the net to draw the hosts level.
Before Van Persie's opener, the hosts had the majority of the chances. Robert Lewandowski rounded goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny but had his finish cleared off the line by Bacary Sagna, and later had a free header fly straight into the goalkeeper's arms. Shinji Kagawa was played on goal with a long ball over the top, but could not keep his volley low and squandered a clear chance.
Both sides could have scored within five minutes, but Gervinho was put off his balance at the last moment and had his finish saved, moments before a Dortmund counterattack ended in Grosskreutz missing the target with just Szczesny to beat. The BVB winger had another clear look at goal, but that, too, he blasted over the bar. Van Persie might have had a brace before half-time, but his volley was tipped wide after a weak clearance allowed him in on goal.
After the half-time break, Arsenal were quite settled at the back, which only further frustrated their wasteful hosts. Gervinho had a chance to make it 2-0 on the hour mark after a long ball saw him get the better of Neven Subotic, but the Serbian defender did just enough to delay his shot, and goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller managed to deny the Ivorian.
Dortmund made attacking substitutions and increased their pressure in the latter stages of the game, and their positive play was ultimately rewarded. In the 81st minute, Subotic pounced on a loose ball in the penalty box, but Szczesny managed to trap the ball between his legs. The goalkeeper's heroics were ultimately in vain, however, as he was left stranded to watch Perisic's volley sail into the net.
BVB pressed on for a late winner, but their pressure came too late as Arsenal managed to hold on for a draw. The result sees the two contestants finish the first matchday tied for second place in Group F, after Marseille edged Olympiacos 1-0 in Piraeus.