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Arsenal frustrated as PSG move ahead in group

Olivier Giroud

Arsenal have made it past the group stages for the 14th consecutive season

Arsenal face a struggle to finish top of their Champions League group after they were held to a draw by Paris St-Germain at Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners were seeking the win that would put them in pole position in Group A after years of finishing second and six eliminations in the last 16 in the knockout phase.

And it looked like Arsenal were on their way despite going behind early on to Edinson Cavani’s sliding finish from Blaise Matuidi’s cross.

Olivier Giroud scored from a penalty right on half-time after Grzegorz Krychowiak fouled Alexis Sanchez. And Arsenal were ahead on the hour when a penalty-box rebound struck Marco Verratti and flew in.

PSG were always dangerous and Lucas’ header, which took a touch off Alex Iwobi, gave them a fully deserved equaliser 13 minutes from time.

Cavani then missed two good chances and although Arsenal and PSG are level on points, the French champions have the advantage on head-to-head away goals with one round of games left after a 1-1 draw between the teams in Paris earlier in the group.

Arsenal looking at second again

Arsenal’s inability to top their Champions League group has cost them dearly as they have failed to get past the last 16 in the past six years – and they now face the same fate again.

The odds now seem stacked in favour of Unai Emery’s side, but the side that finishes top could yet end up facing the likes of Real Madrid or Bayern Munich.

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“I believe we have the quality and the spirit on the bench now” – Arsene Wenger

PSG face Ludogorets at home in their final game, the side Arsenal beat 6-0 at Emirates Stadium, while Wenger’s side travel to Basel.

There is still an opportunity for late twists but it is starting to look like second again after this enthralling draw.

Gunners’ resilience on show

Arsenal may not have been at their best here but they once again showed the resilience that manager Arsene Wenger believes is starting to become their trademark.

Wenger hinted at this new-found strength in his programme notes, written after they grabbed a late point at Manchester United in the Premier League.

He said: “We were resilient, we came back and we’ve done that many times this season. I believe we have the quality and the spirit on the bench now and that combination makes us remarkably resilient until the last minute.”

Arsenal were outplayed until they got a penalty in first-half injury time and while they hardly sparkled in the second half they at least dug deep to earn a point that could yet prove vital.

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Cavani has scored eight goals in his 14 Champions League matches against English sides

Cavani bails Arsenal out

Cavani has forged a reputation as one of the world’s most formidable strikers – and he was on target here again when he slid in to turn home Matuidi’s cross to put PSG ahead after 18 minutes.

The Uruguayan’s runs into space are magical but he could have made Arsenal’s plight much worse with two glaring second half misses, one when he broke clear and went for a Hollywood chipped finish that David Ospina saved, and a point-blank header he directed wide from Lucas’ cross.

Cavani has the record of a quality player – but he let Arsenal off the hook.

Man of the match – Lucas (PSG)

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The Brazilian was PSG’s brightest player and could have put his team 2-1 up only for his wonderful free-kick to hit the crossbar. His leveller was reward for his tireless performance

The stats you need to know

  • This was the first time a Champions League match finished with more goals than shots on target since Rangers vs Unirea Urziceni in October 2009
  • Only Lionel Messi (18) has scored more goals than Cavani (16) in all competitions among players in the big five European leagues this season
  • Olivier Giroud’s penalty was Arsenal’s first shot of any kind in the match
  • Giroud has scored with nine of his past 11 shots on target for Arsenal in all competitions, having scored with just two of his 22 before that
  • Arsenal are unbeaten in their four meetings with PSG, though three have ended in draws (W1)
  • PSG have failed to keep a clean sheet in their past 10 games against English clubs
  • Arsenal have scored 14 goals in the group stages so far – only in 2010-11 (15) have they scored more in their opening five Champions League group games

Live Text

Match ends, Arsenal 2, Paris Saint Germain 2.

Second Half ends, Arsenal 2, Paris Saint Germain 2.

Corner, Paris Saint Germain. Conceded by Laurent Koscielny.

Attempt blocked. Jesé (Paris Saint Germain) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Marco Verratti with a through ball.

Attempt blocked. Jesé (Paris Saint Germain) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Marco Verratti.

Substitution, Paris Saint Germain. Jesé replaces Lucas Moura.

Foul by Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint Germain).

Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Marquinhos (Paris Saint Germain) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal).

Offside, Arsenal. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain tries a through ball, but Olivier Giroud is caught offside.

Attempt missed. Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint Germain) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Lucas Moura with a cross.

Substitution, Arsenal. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaces Carl Jenkinson.

Attempt missed. Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint Germain) right footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Maxwell.

Marco Verratti (Paris Saint Germain) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal).

Substitution, Arsenal. Theo Walcott replaces Francis Coquelin.

Attempt missed. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Alexis Sánchez.

Attempt missed. Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint Germain) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Lucas Moura.

Substitution, Arsenal. Granit Xhaka replaces Alex Iwobi.

Own Goal by Alex Iwobi, Arsenal. Arsenal 2, Paris Saint Germain 2.

Corner, Paris Saint Germain. Conceded by Kieran Gibbs.

Attempt missed. Thiago Motta (Paris Saint Germain) left footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Marco Verratti.

Offside, Arsenal. Carl Jenkinson tries a through ball, but Olivier Giroud is caught offside.

Foul by Thiago Motta (Paris Saint Germain).

Mesut Özil (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution, Paris Saint Germain. Hatem Ben Arfa replaces Grzegorz Krychowiak.

Offside, Paris Saint Germain. Lucas Moura tries a through ball, but Edinson Cavani is caught offside.

Corner, Paris Saint Germain. Conceded by Francis Coquelin.

Attempt missed. Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint Germain) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Marco Verratti.

Own Goal by Marco Verratti, Paris Saint Germain. Arsenal 2, Paris Saint Germain 1.

Attempt missed. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left.

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Maxwell.

Attempt missed. Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Mesut Özil with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Marquinhos.

Attempt blocked. Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.

Attempt blocked. Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint Germain) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Marco Verratti (Paris Saint Germain) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Marco Verratti (Paris Saint Germain).

Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/38068888