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UEFA Champions League Group B remains wide open after AFC Ajax held Arsenal FC for the second week in succession, 0-0 this time in the Amsterdam ArenA.
Tight at the top
With AS Roma beating Valencia CF 3-0 in the group's other fixture tonight, Ajax and Arsenal go into Matchday 11 as joint leaders with six points apiece as the tightest section in the competition looks set to go down to the wire.
Henry comes close
In a game of few chances, the rhythm of the first half was established early on with Arsenal enjoying much of the possession, but struggling to create openings. The visitors' first chance came on four minutes and proved to be their best of the half. After a prolonged passing move, Thierry Henry cut past Petri Pasanen to make room on the edge of the area, but Bogdan Lobont dove to his left to tip the ball away.
Arsenal looked a different side to the one that had thrashed Manchester City FC 5-1 on Saturday, with Ajax defending in numbers and restricting them in midfield. Robert Pires and Sylvain Wiltord were given no room out wide and, with the midfield congested, Arsenal's pace was negated. Indeed Arsenal looked most threatening on the break, Wiltord firing into the side-netting on 17 minutes after a rare Ajax attack had broken down.
At the other end Ajax threatened sporadically, but neither goalkeeper was put under pressure until eight minutes from the break when Wiltord, finally finding space on the right, crossed low for Patrick Vieira who pounced at the near post only for Lobont to get down sharply to save.
Cole to the rescue
A disciplined Ajax were growing in confidence and came closest to breaking the deadlock a minute later. Hatem Trabelsi was brought down on the left-hand side of the Arsenal area allowing Christian Chivu to bend a free-kick around the wall. It beat David Seaman, but not Ashley Cole who headed off the line.
Ajax upped the tempo after the break and turned the tables on Arsenal, dominating possession and pushing the London side back deep into their own half. Where Arsenal had failed to exploit the flanks, Ajax enjoyed plenty of width, with Andy van der Meyde on the left and Trabelsi on the right testing Lauren and Ashley Cole respectively.
The biggest test of all, however, fell to Sol Campbell on 52 minutes and he responded brilliantly to block Zlatan Ibrahimovic's shot after the Swede had been teed up by Trabelsi's surging run into the box.
Arsenal struggled to build any chances of note until the 69th minute when Pires' free-kick from the left found Vieira unmarked at the far post, but the French international snatched at his shot and Lobont scrambled across to save.
Arsenal fall short
Both sides tightened up to preserve the draw, leaving both undefeated in Group B; which will give confidence to Ajax, but leave Arsenal concerned as they have now won just once in seven Champions League matches.
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