Stunning strikes from Roy Makaay and Diego Tristán in the Municipal de Riazor stadium gave RC Deportivo La Coruña a 2-0 Group D win over Arsenal FC.
Deportivo remain unbeaten in the competition while Arsenal began the second group stage of the UEFA Champions League the way they started the first – with a defeat in Spain.
Now six straight losses
Once those two goals in the first 25 minutes had blurred past a less-than-convincing Richard Wright, Arsenal knew they were destined to fall to a sixth successive away defeat in the competition. Wright was taken off at half-time, with suggestions that he was struggling with an injury, and the Gunners contributed much more to the contest after that – without breaking through.
Deportivo also defend well
How Deportivo enjoy the challenge of Europe’s premier club competition. The Primera División leaders have lost only three of their 20 Champions League ties and this game demonstrated why as they held on to their advantage with some solid defending.
United's executioner does it again
They took their goals well although Arsenal were unhappy with the way they came about. The first, in the ninth minute, had a degree of misfortune as Sol Campbell saw his attempted clearance rebound off an opponent and fall kindly for Tristán, the man who scored twice in Deportivo’s first group stage defeat of Manchester United FC. Tristán struck it cleanly and the ball ripped through Wright’s attempt to save.
Deportivo always carry a threat on the break but Arsenal appeared to be consolidating their position, marshalling their forces for an effective response, when the game drifted further away from them. It was another formidable strike from Tristán and it seemed to catch Wright off guard at his near post.
Little desire or determination
With Thierry Henry making his return from injury, Arsenal had the means to hit back but they will not recall their first-half performance with any satisfaction. The required desire and determination was absent from their game while in attack Henry and Sylvain Wiltord strayed offside far too often. The only time they obliged José Molina to make a save in the opening 45 minutes was to field a soft Robert Pires header.
Taylor passes test
Tristán went off soon after his goal and Makaay made way early in the second half but Deportivo continued to threaten and Walter Pandiani might have piled on the embarrassment for Arsenal, who could have no complaints about how youngster Stuart Taylor performed in Wright’s place.
Vieira comes close
The second period was mostly a story of pressure from the English side, however, and Patrick Vieira forced Molina into a stretching save as he took aim with his left foot. Wiltord shot just over and at the end Edu wasted an opportunity in the penalty area. Once again it looks as if Arsenal will have to rely on their home form to resurrect their fortunes.