Ulf Kirsten's injury-time equaliser for Bayer 04 Leverkusen denied Arsenal FC their first away victory in the UEFA Champions League this season as the sides drew 1-1 at the BayArena.
The veteran striker converted Bernt Schneider's cross to claim an unlikely point for the German side who had previously struggled to create chances against an Arsenal team reduced to ten men by Ray Parlour's 70th-minute dismissal.
After a tepid first half in which the Group D rivals had difficulty mastering the wet conditions, the game sprang to life in the 56th minute when Robert Pires opened the scoring. The French international picked up the ball in midfield and ran with purpose at the heart of the Leverkusen defence. As opponents closed in, he picked out Sylvain Wiltord on the right-hand side. He took a touch before sliding the ball back into the path of Pires for a simple finish.
Leverkusen's response was muted as the well-drilled Arsenal back line restricted the hosts to a series of spectulative long-range efforts. Schneider came the closest with an imaginative turn and shot which almost caught David Seaman off guard. Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger referred recently to Sol Campbell as his "super rock" and the English international certainly lived up to the billing. Indeed, the Leverkusen front pair of Kirsten and Oliver Neuville spent much of the game caught between a rock and a hard place, in the form of Campbell and Igors Stepnaovs, his highly impressive central defensive partner.
After Parlour was sent off for a second bookable offence, the Gunners got plenty of men behind the ball to protect their lead. Leverkusen found it hard to breach this rearguard action but eventually the pressure told. Substitute Dimitar Berbatov headed against the bar in the 84th minute before Kirsten's near-post flick was diverted away from goal by Stepnaovs amid vociferous claims for handball.
Arsenal were relieved when the referee waved play on but Kirsten had the last laugh. His late strike - combined with Juventus FC's 0-0 draw against RC Deportivo La Coruña - left Group D unchanged with all four teams on four points.
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