Gunners denied in Dortmund

With manager Arsene Wenger forced to watch from the stands due to a
touchline ban, it looked as if Robin van Persie had snatched the
Gunners an unlikely victory in Germany. Having withstood a barrage
of first-half attacks, the Holland international latched onto Theo
Walcott’s through ball to fire home three minutes before the break.
However, Dortmund continued to dominate in the second period with
their brand of free-flowing football and their tactics paid
dividend with just two minutes remaining. The ball broke free to
Perisic on the edge of the box and the summer signing unleashed a
superb volley to equalise, much to the delight of the raucous home
support who were watching their side in Champions League action for
the first time in nine years. Heading into the Group F clash, Yossi
Benayoun was handed his first Arsenal start. The on-loan Chelsea
midfielder was one of three changes to the side that defeated
Swansea 1-0 at the weekend, with Alex Song and Gervinho coming in
for Andrey Arshavin and the injured Aaron Ramsey. Dortmund welcomed
back skipper Sebastian Kehl and 19-year-old Germany midfielder
Mario Gotze after the weekend’s 2-1 home defeat by Hertha Berlin,
with Ilkay Gundogan and Jakub Blaszczykowski dropping to the bench.
The visitors were met by a wall of sound as they walked onto the
field in Dortmund but were not put off as they attacked the famous
Sudtribune. Van Persie saw a shot blocked in the fifth minute and
when the ball broke to Gervinho in the resulting play he forced
Roman Weidenfeller into action. However, Dortmund looked dangerous
with their free-flowing 4-2-3-1 formation and would have netted
immediately afterwards if Kevin Grosskreutz had shown a bit more
composure in front of goal. Shinji Kagawa was the next to get a
shot away four minutes later, although he too blazed over the bar.
Arsenal’s defence was living a charmed life as Dortmund continued
to attack and only a goal-line clearance from Bacary Sagna thwarted
Robert Lewandowski after he had rounded goalkeeper Wojciech
Szczesny. The Gunners looked to have weathered the storm as they
began to establish a larger proportion of possession but Gotze
showed his undoubted talent turning a Mikel Arteta corner into an
attack that ended in Grosskreutz putting over. Arsenal’s
indifferent start almost got worse when Laurent Koscielny clashed
heads with Mats Hummels, although the centre-back was patched up
and able to continue. While the home side were dominating
proceedings, the north Londoners were looking dangerous in their
fleeting attacks and Weidenfeller was forced to save well when Van
Persie broke free. The Holland international was not be denied for
long and, after winning possession on the halfway line, he ran onto
a Walcott ball to fire past Weidenfeller. Despite the visitors
taking the lead, Dortmund stuck with their plan in the second
period and continued to knock the ball around nicely. Arsenal sat
deep and soaked up the pressure with aplomb, although Marcel
Schmelzer came agonisingly close with a drive in the 55th minute
after ghosting down the left flank. Gervinho managed to eke out an
opportunity for the Gunners but they were forced to withstand an
increasing number of attacks as the half wore on. Only misplaced
passing and finishing were costing Jurgen Klopp’s side dear at
goalscoring opportunities, much to the manager’s visible
displeasure. With less than 15 minutes remaining, Arsenal brought
on Emmanuel Frimpong for Walcott in a bid to shore things up as
they strained to keep Dortmund at bay. Szczesny did well to prevent
Neven Subotic scoring from close range when the Serbian defender
latched onto a Gotze corner in the 82nd minute. Gotze screwed wide
moments later as Dortmund pressed for an equaliser, which came in
the 88th minute through Perisic’s wonder goal. The ball fell kindly
to the substitute from a corner and he unleashed a volley that
rifled into the top right-hand corner with two minutes remaining.
Dortmund pressed for the winner in the dying minutes, although
resolute defending kept the scores level.