Arsenal over turn Olympiacos
Written By: Robert Halter
The first competitive goal scored at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium was by Olof Mellberg, then at Aston Villa, and he returned to face the Gunners with Greek champions Olympiacos in match day two of the UEFA Champions League Group F. Arsenal had opened their account with a 1-1 draw away at Borussia Dortmund while Olympiacos were beaten 2-0 at home to Olympique de Marseille. David Fuster drifted the ball wide in the opening exchanges as the Greeks started on the ascendancy. But it was Arsenal that took an early lead on eight minutes, after a long ball in by Alex Song was brought down on the chest by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, he took advantage of his first attempt bouncing back off Ivan Maracano, and followed up by a decisive shot between the legs of Mellberg, and into the net off the base of the post. Six minutes later, Marouane Chamakh flashed a header wide off Mikel Arteta’s corner, although it was the other end of the field that Arsenal escaped conceding an equaliser on the quarter of the hour mark, when from an Areil Ibagaza corner, the ball broke to Rafik Djebbour but a goal line clearance by Arteta kept the ball out, before the rebound was put into the side netting. The Gunners made Olympiacos pay the price and doubled their advantage in the twentieth minute, when Chamakh won the ball back from Andre Santos’s low cross, after Tomas Rosicky’s pass into the box and on the turn Santos beat Franco Costanzo at his near post, and drilled his shot past the goalkeeper. Andrey Arshavin paved the way for Chamakh to add a third but as he brought the ball down, Chamakh was unable to apply the finish, four minutes later. Olympiacos found a way back into the match in the twenty seventh minute with a measured cross by Ibagaza and header down by Fuster going past Wojciech Szczesny into the left side of the goal. The Gunners shot stopper then had to produce back to back saves, first to push over Rafik Djebbour’s shot and then to block Vassilis Torossidis’s effort to keep Olympiacos out on both occasions. The Greeks created a further opportunity seven minutes before the break when Kevin Mirallas dribbled down the left flank but his strike ricocheted off Szczesny’s legs at his near post. Olympiacos pressured early into the second half with a shot at distance by Marcano, which curled wide. But it was Oxlade-Chamberlain that had a chance to grab his second goal and Arsenal’s third but he hammered his shot into Costanzo’s body after Chamakh had created the opening in the fiftieth minute. Five minutes later, Arshavin’s cross shot hit the top of the upright before being flagged out of play. Although it was Olympiacos cursing their luck on sixty four minutes when Torossidis’s thunderous long range strike turned past Santos and rattled against the Gunners crossbar before bouncing away for safety. Five minutes later, Aaron Ramsey made an immediate impact as sub, when he ran through and put Arshavin in the clear whose final shot was blocked by Costanzo. Despite that miss, Arsenal held the upper hand and retained their advantage to bag three points and go second in the group behind Olympique de Marseille, after the French side’s 3-0 home win over Borussia Dortmund.