Arsenal's Alexis after Champs League loss

The Champions League didn’t get off to a hot start for Arsenal. The Gunners were on the wrong end of a 2-1 result against Dinamo Zagreb last match day and Tuesday’s match against Olympiakos was essentially a must-win match for the London club. Their Greek opponents, on the other hand, were handed a 3-0 thrashing by Bavarian giants Bayern Munich. Two straight losses can be a death sentence this early into the competition, and a match at the Emirates seemed to favor an Arsenal victory.

In a questionable lineup decision, Arsene Wenger left out league legend Petr Cech in favor of Colombian keeper David Ospina. Ospina, who had only made two competitive appearances going into the match, would be in for a busy night. The Gunners got the first real chance ten minutes into the match with a quick counterattack from an Olympiakos corner. A well placed through ball from Alexis Sanchez found an onrushing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but the Englishman fired his shot into the side netting.

The Greeks managed to silence the Emirates’ crowd in the 33rd minute when Felipe Pardo’s deflected drive from distance found its way past Ospina. Olympiakos’ lead would last just two minutes. Roberto Gago got a hand to Theo Walcott’s close range effort, but the Spaniard was unable to keep the ball from the back of the net. This quick fire exchange would be the theme of the match to come.

Wenger’s decision to bench Cech in favor of Ospina came back to haunt him just minutes before the end of the half. Opsina batted down a seemingly harmless Olympiakos’ corner on the goal line, and the fifth official deemed the keeper knocked the ball into his own net. Replays were inconclusive, however, and Arsenal fans were left raging at the debatable decision. Ospina’s own goal marked the end of the action in the first half, and sent the Gunners’ into the break down 2-1.

As the second half dragged on, Arsenal’s chances of winning were dwindling and fans’ patience was running low. On the hour mark, it looked as if an Arsenal’s victory just wasn’t in the cards as several close range efforts were batted away by Olympiakos’ defenders. Just minutes after this exciting exchange, Alexis Sanchez finally found Arsenal’s long-awaited equalizer. This time Walcott played provider with a looped cross, and the Chilean thundered his header home to put the hosts on level terms.

Less than two minutes after Arsenal’s hopes of winning were restored, their Greek visitors silenced the Emirates once again. Pardo slotted a cross into the six-yard box and Alfred Finnbogason made no mistake in slotting home his point blank finish. In the 77th minute, Mesut Ozil’s freek kick nearly rescued a point for the Gunners but Gago’s acrobatic save secured an Olympiakos’ victory.

The defeat leaves Arsenal with zero points going into their next match against Bayern Munich. The poor start requires a near perfect run from the Gunners to secure a spot in the knockout stages, and continues the trend of poor English performance in the European competition. Olympiakos must now be considered one of the favorites to advance from Group F alongside Bayern Munich.


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