AZ salvages 1-1 draw against Arsenal

Midfielder David Mendes da Silva scored in the last minute of stoppage time Tuesday to salvage a 1-1 draw for AZ Alkmaar against Arsenal in the Champions League.

Andrei Arshavin and Robin van Persie had combined to set up Cesc Fabregas, who gave Arsenal the lead with a low shot in the 36th. But Graziano Pelle’s header in the final seconds found da Silva, who volleyed home from close range to stun Arsenal and end the English club’s perfect start in Group H.

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Arsenal has seven points from three games, while AZ has two.

“This is a morale-boosting draw for us,” AZ captain Stijn Schaars said. “You have to be realistic, Arsenal is a very good team with a a lot of quality, so it feels nice to get a draw against them.”

Van Persie got an early chance to put Arsenal ahead from eight meters (yards) but the former Feyernoord forward saw his ninth-minute shot blocked by AZ goalkeeper Sergio Romero.

Wearing shirts with no logo after main sponsor DSB Bank NV was recently declared bankrupt, AZ enjoyed superior ball possession in the first half. But it failed to create any meaningful chances until the 25th, when striker Mounir El Hamdaoui fired wide from the edge of area.

Arsenal responded two minutes later with Emmanuel Eboue setting up Arshavin, but the Russian’s close-range effort went over the bar.

Arshavin then stole the ball from defender Niklas Moisander and released it to van Persie, who crossed the ball for Fabregas to slot in.

Romero kept AZ in the game with a save in the 42nd, parrying van Persie’s long-range shot.

Romero also made a diving save to deny van Persie’s curling free kick in the 50th.

Arshavin could have doubled Arsenal’s advantage, but his 89th-minute shot was saved by Romero.

With Arsenal looking set to come away with another away win, Schaars flighted the ball into the Arsenal area and found Pelle, whose goal-bound header was converted by da Silva.