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Teenager inspires Arsenal against Olympiacos

Published: Wednesday 28 September 2011, 22.40CET
Arsenal FC 2-1 Olympiacos FC
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 18, and André Santos scored their first goals for Arsenal as the Gunners held on for victory in north London.
by Trevor Huggins
from Arsenal Stadium

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Published: Wednesday 28 September 2011, 22.40CET

Teenager inspires Arsenal against Olympiacos

Arsenal FC 2-1 Olympiacos FC
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 18, and André Santos scored their first goals for Arsenal as the Gunners held on for victory in north London.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrated his UEFA Champions League debut with the opening goal as Arsenal FC won 2-1 against Olympiacos FC in Group F.

The 18-year-old's eighth-minute strike and another from André Santos had Arsenal cruising before David Fuster pulled one back for the Greek title holders just before the half-hour, throwing the contest wide open. Olympiacos would have been good value for a point for what was an impressive performance, only for the woodwork to deny them in the second half.

On an unseasonably warm night, both sides were looking to better matchday one results when Arsenal drew 1-1 at Borussia Dortmund and Olympiacos lost 1-0 to Olympique de Marseille. However, the stakes did not prevent Arsenal from putting Robin van Persie on the bench and handing Oxlade-Chamberlain his competition debut.

The move soon paid off when Alex Song floated a long ball forward and Oxlade-Chamberlain shrugged off two challenges before steering a left-foot shot past Franco Costanzo and in off the post.

The goal stung Olympiacos into action and Arsenal needed Mikel Arteta to clear off the line to deny Rafik Djebbour in a goalmouth melee a few minutes later. Just as the Greek side were building real momentum, though, a swift passing move put Santos through and when his pass to Marouane Chamakh was blocked, the Brazilian left-back pounced to arrow in an angled shot in the 20th minute.

The scoreline belied the fact the visitors were playing some clever football and their reward was not long in coming. Playmaker Ariel Ibagaza collected the ball from a well-worked corner on the left and crossed for the unmarked Fuster, whose downward header from around the penalty spot gave Wojciech Szczęsny no chance.

Back in the game, Olympiacos came out even more determined after the break, with Ibagaza superbly providing the link between midfield and Djebbour and Kevin Mirallas pushing forward. At the other end, Arsenal struggled to create clear-cut opportunities with former Aston Villa FC player Olof Mellberg keeping a close watch on Chamakh.

Mellberg's fellow defender Vassilis Torossidis nearly struck a superb equaliser midway through the half, only for his curling left-foot shot from the edge of the area to dip onto the bar. Two chances fell to Andrey Arshavin on the break to make it 3-1 but he failed to find a way through and his side settled for the narrower victory.

Last updated: 27/11/12 15.37CET

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