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.