Arsenal settle for second spot

Arsenal surrendered a half-time lead to qualify from Champions League Group B as runners-up after a 2-1 defeat to Olympiakos in Greece.

Last Updated: 05/12/12 at 07:24 Post Comment

Kostas Mitroglou: Celebrates his winner against Arsenal

Kostas Mitroglou: Celebrates his winner against Arsenal

Tomas Rosicky's neat first-time finish allowed Arsenal to take a narrow lead into the break, but goals from Ioannis Maniatis and Kostas Mitroglou midway through the second half gave the hosts their second victory of the campaign and some encouragement ahead of their Europa League participation.

Defeat means Arsenal finish second in the group having failed to capitalise on Schalke's draw with Montpellier.

With qualification already secure for the knockout stages, if not top spot, Arsene Wenger made seven changes from the weekend defeat to Swansea. Defender Jernade Meade, 20, was handed his Champions League debut, while the Arsenal boss packed his bench with youngsters Zak Ansah, Sead Hajrovic, Elton Monteiro and 17-year-old English striker Chuba Akpom.

Gervinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both wasted early openings by shooting wide of the target before the hosts had their first opportunity in the 11th minute, when Djamel Abdoun's cutback was cleared by Thomas Vermaelen to deny Rafik Djebbour a tap-in.

With both sides happy to attack, Aaron Ramsey was wasteful when Marouane Chamakh headed Oxlade-Chamberlain's cross back towards the penalty spot in the 17th minute, but the midfielder horribly miskicked an attempted first-time shot with his left foot.

A spell of Olympiakos pressure followed, with Rosicky having to kick Vasilis Torosidis' header away from the far post following a corner, before Wojciech Szczesny was forced to parry away Abdoun's 24th-minute drive from inside the box. Six minutes before half-time, however, Arsenal made the hosts pay for their missed chances.

Gervinho wasted one promising opening, but immediately regained possession on the right before driving towards the right touchline and pulling back a low pass for Rosicky, who strode on to the perfectly-weighted ball and curled it inside Roy Carroll's far post.

The goalscorer was replaced by Andrey Arshavin at the break and the Russian wasted the second-half's first opportunity when he directed a free-header over the crossbar after Chamakh's fine delivery from the right.

Arshavin hit the target just after the hour mark to round off a fine Arsenal counter-attack, but the substitute's well-struck shot from a tight angle was parried away by Carroll on its way towards the roof of the Northern Ireland keeper's net.

Olympiakos capitalised on a questionable decision from the officials to equalise in the 65th minute. Paulo Machado's header appeared to glance the post on its way behind Szczesny's goal, but a corner was awarded to the hosts, with the keeper accused of having finger-tipped the ball to safety. Arsenal failed to fully clear the set-piece, which resulted in Ramsey inadvertently chesting the ball to Maniatis, who poked home from close range at the far post.

The Greeks completed the turn around eight minutes later. Mitroglou, who had come off the bench only a minute earlier, was gifted time and space to turn on the edge of the box before curling a lovely low shot around Szczesny.

OlympiakosTeam StatisticsArsenal
2Goals1
01st Half Goals1
9Shots on Target3
4Shots off Target2
2Blocked Shots1
6Corners2
16Fouls16
2Offsides3
1Yellow Cards4
0Red Cards0
82.4Passing Success80.3
24Tackles15
75Tackles Success73.3
53.1Possession46.9
54.4Territorial Advantage45.6
450Total Passes412
31Total Crosses10
153Lost Balls153
59Recoveries66
55.51st Half Poss.44.5
48.52nd Half Poss.51.5

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may well get slated by other United fans for this, but out of the three contenders, I'd far prefer Liverpool to win the title. Yes some elements of their fanbase can be a bit OTT, yes they're our biggest rivals and yes it will make our poor season feel even more like the end of an era (Fergie's gone, Liverpool are back on top). However I just have to applaud Brendan Rodgers and the way he's turned Liverpool around in just a couple of seasons. It...

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Please Stop Telling Us What To Think

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ooray! We are all excited now, we beat a very mediocre team! With all due respect to WHU supporters, not winning that game shouldn't even be a consideration. This is the problem, there is no winning mentality at the Emirates - we're all congratulating ourselves beating a team that we have a winning record against.

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Wenger hails important win

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s this meant to be an aspiration for United supporters? Moyes mediocrity strikes again. I see the Bayern boys don't want to sign for him, and his reputation amongst the senior European coaches make other key signings unlikely.

redbornandbred
De Gea's Europa League target

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