Montpellier v Arsenal
Belhanda 9′ (pen)
Podolski 16′ Gervinho 18′
- FT 90 +4
- HT 1-2
Arsenal opened their 15th successive Champions League campaign with an unconvincing victory as they came from behind to beat Montpellier.
Younes Belhanda's chipped penalty gave the French champions the lead on nine minutes when captain Thomas Vermaelen conceded on the edge of his area.
Paying the penalty
- Since August 2004, Arsenal have conceded 11 Champions League penalties - more than any other team.
- Abou Diaby was booked after 21 seconds against Montpellier, the quickest Champions League yellow card since Paulo Jorge in November 2009.
- Source: Opta
But two goals in three first-half minutes turned the game on its head.
First Lukas Podolski levelled with a calm finish, before Gervinho poked in a from close range two minutes later.
It was a night to forget for Olivier Giroud, who left Montpellier for Arsenal in a £13m deal over the summer. The 25-year-old had been desperate to shine on his return to a club where he won the French title and the golden boot last season but Arsenal were some way short of full capacity all over the field.
They worked hard, counter-attacked intelligently, using the energy of Abou Diaby and the guile of Santi Cazorla, and finished decisively but it was not a classic performance from Wenger's team.
It did not have to be, but for much of a breathless second half a tired Arsenal side were left hanging on with a late Montpellier penalty shout controversially waved away by referee Carlos Velasco Carballo.
The result leaves Arsenal in control of Group B, level on points with Schalke.
Arsenal had never lost to Ligue 1 opposition in eight previous European matches.
That, coupled with the vast European experience of Wenger's side - the last season in which they did not compete in the Champions League was in 1997-98 - against opponents making their debut in the competition, pointed towards another encouraging night for Arsenal.
Arsenal assistant manager Steve Bould
"We looked a little tired in the second half because it was very humid and the crowd got behind them. It is quite an intimidating place to come and play, so we are glad to get the result.
"We have had a decent start to the season and we have kept the run going, so it's important all round, for the whole season."
And yet with Wenger starting a three-match touchline ban for confronting referee Damir Skomina after Arsenal's Champions League exit last season at the hands of AC Milan, there was also a measure of uncertainty.
Assistant manager Steve Bould took charge from the sidelines, having been promoted from his role as the under-18 academy coach in the summer.
The Premier League side had also looked the more vulnerable in the opening stages, with Vito Mannone continuing to deputise in goal for the injured Wojciech Szczesny and the inexperienced duo of Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs at full-back.
Vermaelen heaped further pressure on his team-mates with a clumsy and unnecessary challenge on Belhanda that led to a ninth-minute penalty. The Montpellier midfielder had been running away from goal when the Arsenal captain ended his progress with a tangle of legs.
Belhanda's chipped 'Panenka penalty' was dispatched with an air of arrogance. And yet it was at that moment that Arsenal moved up a level, striking twice in the space of three minutes to silence the Stade de la Mosso.
The first came after a sweeping passing move that began with Diaby and ended when Cazorla combined with Giroud in the inside-left position. The latter's first-time pass freed Podolski in space behind the Montpellier defence from where he slid the ball beyond goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren and into the net from 12 yards.
It was the German striker's third goal in as many games.
The force was with Arsenal now, another sweeping attacking surge saw Gervinho and Jenkinson combining down the right before the young Englishman curled a teasing low cross which his team-mate prodded over Jourdren into the net from close range.
And yet there was still a feeling that Arsenal were vulnerable. With Montpellier sensing that at the start of the second half, Diaby attempted to run the ball away from his own penalty area. Remi Cabella picked his pocket, only to fire his shot high and wide of Mannone's left-hand post from 10 yards.
Cabella was at the heart of Montpellier's revival. Five minutes later his impudent chip thumped the Arsenal crossbar as the home supporters found their voice.
The French champions continued to pour forward, Belhanda somehow firing straight at Mannone from eight yards. The referee waved away another late penalty shout by Montpellier as the irrepressible Cabella went to ground under Diaby's challenge.
But Arsenal somehow stood firm.
- 16 Geoffrey Jourdren
- 02 Bocaly
- 03 Mapou Yanga M'Biwa Booked
- 04 Hilton
- 05 Bedimo
- 10 Belhanda Booked
- 13 Estrada (Emanuel Herrera - 78' )
- 20 Remy Cabella
- 23 Saihi
- 08 Mounier (Karim Ait-Fana - 67' )
- 19 Camara (Stambouli - 78' )
- 01 Laurent Pionnier
- 12 Congre
- 27 Jeunechamp
- 06 Joris Marveaux
- 22 Stambouli
- 11 Emanuel Herrera
- 18 Karim Ait-Fana
- 24 Mannone
- 04 Mertesacker
- 05 Vermaelen
- 25 Jenkinson
- 28 Gibbs
- 02 Diaby Booked
- 08 Arteta
- 19 Cazorla (Coquelin - 90' )
- 09 Podolski (Walcott - 90' )
- 12 Giroud (Ramsey - 76' )
- 27 Gervinho
- 60 Shea
- 06 Koscielny
- 11 Santos
- 14 Walcott
- 15 Oxlade-Chamberlain
- 16 Ramsey
- 22 Coquelin
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee blows his whistle to end the game.90:00 +3:05
The ball is swung over by Garry Bocaly.90:00 +2:42
Mapou Yanga M'Biwa fouled by Francis Coquelin, the ref awards a free kick. Vitorino Hilton takes the free kick.89:21 Substitution
Substitution Theo Walcott is brought on as a substitute for Lukas Podolski.89:05 Substitution
Substitution Santi Cazorla leaves the field to be replaced by Francis Coquelin.88:25
The ball is swung over by Mapou Yanga M'Biwa, clearance made by Vassiriki Diaby.87:56
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Mapou Yanga M'Biwa by Lukas Podolski. Free kick taken by Mapou Yanga M'Biwa.87:21
The official flags Emanuel Herrera offside. Indirect free kick taken by Vito Mannone.87:11
Remy Cabella sends in a cross, Carl Jenkinson makes a clearance.85:06
Emanuel Herrera is caught offside. Indirect free kick taken by Vito Mannone.83:46
Free kick taken by Mikel Arteta.83:46 Booking
Booking The referee cautions Younes Belhanda for unsporting behaviour.83:46
Santi Cazorla fouled by Younes Belhanda, the ref awards a free kick.83:08
Garry Bocaly produces a cross.82:41
Mapou Yanga M'Biwa crosses the ball.81:45
Unfair challenge on Mikel Arteta by Karim Ait-Fana results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Mikel Arteta.80:12
Kieran Gibbs concedes a free kick for a foul on Remy Cabella. Remy Cabella takes the direct free kick.79:47
Younes Belhanda takes a shot. Save by Vito Mannone.77:05 Substitution
Substitution Benjamin Stambouli on for Souleymane Camara.77:05 Substitution
Substitution Emanuel Herrera comes on in place of Marco Estrada.
Mikel Arteta takes the free kick.74:48 Substitution
Substitution (Arsenal) makes a substitution, with Aaron Ramsey coming on for Olivier Giroud.74:48
Foul by Younes Belhanda on Yao Gervinho, free kick awarded.73:35
Corner taken by Younes Belhanda, clearance by Per Mertesacker.72:08
The ball is swung over by Remy Cabella, Thomas Vermaelen manages to make a clearance.70:56
Souleymane Camara takes a shot. Per Mertesacker gets a block in. Karim Ait-Fana produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide right of the target.69:40
The ball is sent over by Garry Bocaly, blocked by Per Mertesacker. Karim Ait-Fana challenges Per Mertesacker unfairly and gives away a free kick. Vito Mannone restarts play with the free kick.68:59
The ball is crossed by Garry Bocaly, save by Vito Mannone.68:14
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Younes Belhanda by Vassiriki Diaby. Marco Estrada crosses the ball in from the free kick, clearance by Carl Jenkinson.67:49
Kieran Gibbs produces a cross, clearance by Vitorino Hilton.66:53 Substitution
Substitution Anthony Mounier goes off and Karim Ait-Fana comes on.59:26
The assistant referee flags for offside against Souleymane Camara. Vito Mannone takes the free kick.58:02
Mikel Arteta challenges Remy Cabella unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Remy Cabella.57:22
Corner from the left by-line taken by Santi Cazorla, Per Mertesacker takes a shot. Clearance by Garry Bocaly.56:52
Santi Cazorla takes a shot. Save by Geoffrey Jourdren.55:44
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Remy Cabella by Kieran Gibbs. Marco Estrada produces a strike on goal direct from the free kick, comfortable save by Vito Mannone.54:23
Effort on goal by Remy Cabella from 20 yards. Remy Cabella produces a left-footed shot from just outside the penalty area that goes harmlessly over the target.53:49
The referee blows for offside against Anthony Mounier. Per Mertesacker takes the indirect free kick.53:01
Shot from just outside the area by Anthony Mounier misses to the left of the target.52:07
The ball is delivered by Remy Cabella, Effort from the edge of the area by Garry Bocaly goes wide of the right-hand post.50:09
Effort from the edge of the penalty area by Garry Bocaly goes wide of the left-hand post.49:28
Short corner worked by Younes Belhanda. Effort on goal by Anthony Mounier from 18 yards. Blocked by Thomas Vermaelen.48:00
Short corner worked by Anthony Mounier.47:26
Centre by Remy Cabella, Kieran Gibbs makes a clearance.46:37
Effort from deep inside the area by Remy Cabella misses to the right of the target.45:14
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Carl Jenkinson by Henri Bedimo. Mikel Arteta takes the free kick.45:01
The match restarts for the second half.45:00 +1:06 Half time
Half Time The half-time whistle blows.45:00 +0:20
Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Santi Cazorla, save made by Geoffrey Jourdren.44:28
Kieran Gibbs crosses the ball, Shot by Olivier Giroud from deep inside the penalty area misses wide to the left of the target.43:23
Yao Gervinho takes a shot. Blocked by Vitorino Hilton.42:16
Younes Belhanda challenges Mikel Arteta unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Mikel Arteta.40:15
Free kick taken by Santi Cazorla.40:15 Booking
Booking Mapou Yanga M'Biwa is booked.40:10
Mikel Arteta fouled by Mapou Yanga M'Biwa, the ref awards a free kick.38:02
Anthony Mounier sends in a cross, save by Vito Mannone.35:49
Anthony Mounier crosses the ball, blocked by Yao Gervinho. Corner taken right-footed by Younes Belhanda from the left by-line, Vito Mannone makes a comfortable save.34:21
Effort from long distance by Garry Bocaly goes wide right of the goal.33:44
Remy Cabella takes a shot. Save by Vito Mannone. Anthony Mounier decides to take the corner short.32:01
Foul by Mapou Yanga M'Biwa on Olivier Giroud, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Santi Cazorla.31:32
Souleymane Camara gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Thomas Vermaelen. Vito Mannone takes the free kick.28:19
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Santi Cazorla by Marco Estrada. Mikel Arteta takes the free kick.26:44
Younes Belhanda takes a inswinging corner.26:04
Souleymane Camara is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Thomas Vermaelen takes the free kick.25:37
Mikel Arteta concedes a free kick for a foul on Remy Cabella. Garry Bocaly restarts play with the free kick.23:20
Santi Cazorla takes the outswinging corner, Younes Belhanda manages to make a clearance.22:59
Corner taken by Santi Cazorla from the right by-line to the near post, clearance by Younes Belhanda.22:40
Centre by Carl Jenkinson, Vitorino Hilton manages to make a clearance.22:19
Unfair challenge on Thomas Vermaelen by Younes Belhanda results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Vito Mannone.21:49
Younes Belhanda takes a shot. Blocked by Per Mertesacker.21:21
The offside flag is raised against Yao Gervinho. Geoffrey Jourdren restarts play with the free kick.19:47
Remy Cabella fouled by Lukas Podolski, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick crossed right-footed by Younes Belhanda, blocked by Per Mertesacker.17:02
Carl Jenkinson provided the assist for the goal.17:02 Goal scored
Goal! - Yao Gervinho - Montpel'er 1 - 2 Arsenal A goal is scored by Yao Gervinho from inside the six-yard box low into the middle of the goal. Montpellier 1-2 Arsenal.15:05
Assist on the goal came from Olivier Giroud.15:05 Goal scored
Goal! - Lukas Podolski - Montpel'er 1 - 1 Arsenal Lukas Podolski gets on the score sheet with a goal from deep inside the penalty box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Montpellier 1-1 Arsenal.14:22
The ball is delivered by Yao Gervinho, Vitorino Hilton makes a clearance.13:50
Garry Bocaly produces a right-footed shot from long range that goes harmlessly over the bar.12:38
Remy Cabella fouled by Mikel Arteta, the ref awards a free kick. Marco Estrada has a direct shot on goal from the free kick.11:29
Free kick awarded for a foul by Olivier Giroud on Mapou Yanga M'Biwa. Free kick taken by Mapou Yanga M'Biwa.10:53
Remy Cabella delivers the ball.8:19 Goal scored
Goal! - Younes Belhanda - Montpel'er 1 - 0 Arsenal Younes Belhanda scores a placed penalty. Montpellier 1-0 Arsenal.7:25
Penalty awarded for a foul by Thomas Vermaelen on Younes Belhanda.5:10
The ball is sent over by Lukas Podolski, Mapou Yanga M'Biwa gets a block in. Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Santi Cazorla, clearance made by Mapou Yanga M'Biwa.2:56
Handball decision goes against Jamelle Saihi. Santi Cazorla produces a strike on goal direct from the free kick.1:45
Free kick awarded for a foul by Mapou Yanga M'Biwa on Lukas Podolski. Santi Cazorla takes the free kick.1:21
The offside flag is raised against Souleymane Camara. Vito Mannone takes the free kick.0:25
Mapou Yanga M'Biwa restarts play with the free kick.0:25 Booking
Booking Vassiriki Diaby goes into the book for unsporting behaviour.0:19
Vassiriki Diaby gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Marco Estrada.0:00
The game gets underway.
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