WTTGT Reporter: Tashan Deniran-Alleyne
OLYMPIAKOS 3-1 ARSENAL
A young Arsenal side slumped to defeat at the hands of Olympiakos in their final group game in the UEFA Champions League, some sloppy defending and a goalkeeping mistake saw the gunners lose their unbeaten run in the competition.
With Arsenal already qualified for the knockout stages, Arsene Wenger decided to ring the changes, with only Thomas Vermaelen and Andre Santos keeping their place from Saturday’s win over Wigan, with the majority of the first-team players staying at home.
Olympiakos, chasing a win to qualify went close in the opening minutes when Kevin Mirallas got into space down the right crossed for Rafik Djebbour who just failed to get a clean connection from inside the penalty area.
Arsenal’s first chance fell to Andrei Arshavin who saw his shot saved by Balazs Megyeri. Marouane Chamakh then saw his attempt blocked after being played in by Emmanuel Frimpong, the same duo combined for the rebound with the latter firing into the side netting.
A mix up between Johan Djourou and Sebastien Squillaci caused confusion for Lukasz Fabianski who was rounded by Djebbour who slotted home to put the Greeks ahead.
Another mistake almost gifted the hosts a second goal as Fabianski’s poor clearance fell to Mirallas whose lobbed effort was off target. That would prove to be the Pole’s final involvement as a collision with Vermaelen resulted in him being replaced by Vito Mannone.
Yossi Benayoun missed a chance after good work from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, then at the other end a goalkeeping howler from Mannone saw him gift Olympiacos a second as the Italian keeper attempted to kick the ball which he could have caught, allowing David Fuster to double his side’s advantage.
The home side finished the half the stronger, pressing Arsenal in possession, threatening to grab a third goal.
The hosts started the second half the way they finished the first, on the front foot, and saw Mannone make a good save from Francois Modesto. Then after withstanding some intense pressure from the Greeks, Arsenal pulled a goal back through Benayoun as he volleyed home from outside the area after latching on to a knockdown from Chamakh.
But the Israeli’s hard work was almost undone moments later, as hesitation between Squillaci and Mannone saw Modesto sneak in but he could only head wide. Megyeri denied Tomas Rosicky as the gunners searched for an equaliser.
It was Modesto who clinched the game for his team as he was the quickest to react after Olof Mellberg’s header had come back off the post.
A harsh lesson for a youthful Arsenal team, but performances from some of the more senior players will cause concern for Wenger.
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