Arsenal’s 12-game unbeaten streak came to a thudding halt at the Emirates on Tuesday and manager Arsene Wenger’s 64th birthday was spoiled as they were handed a 2-1 loss by Borussia Dortmund. The German side scored a late goal in the pouring rain in the Champions League showdown and are now level on points with Arsenal and Napoli. All three teams have six points after three Group F matches.
Robert Lewandowski scored the winner against the flow of play in the 82nd minute. Henrikh Mkhitaryan had given the second-place Bundesliga club the lead after 16 minutes only to have the Gunners equalize 25 minutes later through Olivier Giroud. Last year’s Champions League runners up got off to a quick start as they controlled the action for most of the first half. Midfielder Aaron Ramsey lost the ball on the edge of his 18-yard box and Marco Reus nudged it over to Lewandowski. The Polish international then passed it over to Mkhitaryan and he drilled a hard, low shot past keeper Wojciech Szczesny from about 15 yards out.
The Premier League leaders leveled the contest just four minutes before half time when Giroud took advantage of a mix up between Dortmund defender Neven Subotic and keeper Roman Weidenfeller. They couldn’t handle a Bacary Sagna cross from the right wing and Giroud pounced on the loose ball and hammered it into the back of the net from a couple of yards out. The two teams then went off to the dressing rooms level at 1-1 after 45 minutes.
The Gunners picked up the pace in the second half and played better as the minutes ticked away. Midfielder Jack Wilshere, who hurt his ankle in the first half, was substituted after 57 minutes by Santi Cazorla and Arsenal seemed to be inspired by the Spanish international’s fresh legs. Cazorla came close to giving Arsenal the lead, but his long range effort hit the woodwork where the keeper’s left post meets the cross bar.
Arsenal continued to press the action, but defender Bacary Sagna was caught up the pitch and was made to pay for it when defender Kevin Grosskreutz crossed the ball over from the right side to the far post and Lewandowski arrived just in time to meet it and beat his Polish teammate Szczesny. Neither goalkeeper had much to do throughout the match, but it wasn’t exactly a boring affair. The loss isn’t the end of the world, but the rematch in two week’s time will be crucial.
It was Arsenal’s third straight home loss to a German team as Schalke and Bayern Munich also beat them at the Emirates last season. The Gunners next match will be a Premier League affair as they meet Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in a London derby.
Arsenal Player Ratings-Tues. Oct. 22
Arsenal 1-2 Borussia Dortmund–Champions League Group F Match 3
Wojciech Szczesny – 6
He really only had a couple of shots to face and they both beat him. They were tough shots though and it’s hard to rate him since he didn’t have much to do.
Bacary Sagna – 6.5
Sagna tried to get forward as often as possible, but he paid for it on one of these forays when he was caught up the pitch for Dortmund’s winner. He helped set up Giroud’s goal though.
Per Mertesacker – 6.5
He had a pretty steady game with some important clearances.
Laurent Koscielny – 6.5
He was solid enough and did his job when called upon.
Kieran Gibbs – 6.5
Gibbs, like the rest of the back four, played well, but were simply caught a couple of times and made to pay for it on the goals.
Mikel Arteta – 7
Arteta wore the captain’s armband again and had a good match. He made some big tackles and led by example.
Aaron Ramsey – 6
Ramsey was far from his best and his mistake led t Dortmund’s first goal. He tried though, but things just didn’t work out for him and his teammates. He was taken off after 86 minutes and replaced by Nicklas Bendtner.
Mesut Ozil – 6.5
Ozil wasn’t in top form either as Dortmund just didn’t give him the time and space that he’s used to.
Jack Wilshere – 6
Wilshere hurt his ankle in the first half, but remained in the game. He struggled when he had the ball and his passing was nowhere near his best. He was taken off after 57 minutes and replaced by Santi Cazorla.
Tomas Rosicky – 6.5
Rosicky put in a good effort and while he wasn’t at his peak, he wasn’t too bad at all. Was taken off after 89 minutes for Serge Gnarby.
Olivier Giroud – 7
Giroud worked hard all game long and it paid off in his opportune goal.
Santi Cazorla – 7
Cazorla entered the game after 57 minutes when Wilshere was taken off. He energized the team and almost gave the Gunners the lead, but his shot rattled the woodwork. A good showing.
Serge Gnabry – N/A
Came on for Rosicky after 89 minutes.
Nicklas Bentdner – N/A
Came on for Ramsey after 86 minutes.