By Trevor Haylett at Highbury
When Panathinaikos FC missed a second-half penalty it looked as if their chance to take something from tonight's game had gone but they retained enough spirit and determination to score a late equaliser.
Own goal decisive
Thierry Henry had found the target from the spot on 16 minutes, but Angelos Basinas was not so fortunate after the break. However, Pascal Cygan put through his own net a quarter-hour from time to ensure Panathinaikos remain within a point of second-placed Arsenal in Group E.
Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger decided not to start with José Antonio Reyes who had damaged his hand in Saturday's Premiership draw against Southampton FC. That meant there were three alterations in all from the Arsenal team held 2-2 a fortnight ago in Athens with Sol Campbell and Edu also missing through injury, Cygan, Patrick Vieira and Dennis Bergkamp all returning.
The visitors made a total of four changes: Michalis Konstantinou, Dumitru Mitu and Nasief Morris all stepped down to the bench while Ioannis Goumas was another injury absentee. Defenders René Henriksen and Ilias Kotsios, midfield player Silvio Maric and striker Dimitrios Papadopoulos started.
Panathinaikos made their intentions clear from the outset, leaving Papadopoulos on his own in attack and giving themselves some solid security with a five-man rearguard. They were quick to break out with anchorman Basinas always ready to spread the ball to the flank - but they were mainly on the defensive.
A Bergkamp shot from the edge of the penalty area was the first moment of concern for Panathinaikos goalkeeper Konstantinos Chalkias. At the other end Jens Lehmann went full length to stop Basinas's speculative effort.
They may not have quite been in their groove, but Arsenal still took a 16th-minute lead courtesy of a foul by Sotirios Kyrgiakos who held back Patrick Vieira. Henry had missed from the spot against Southampton, but slammed in this penalty with great certainty.
Panathinaikos were competing vigorously for every midfield challenge but Papadopoulos had to struggle for space against four defenders. Ashley Cole was threatening the visitors down their right flank and on more than one occasion the away team were grateful that an offside flag called a halt to a promising Arsenal build-up. Before half-time Cole sent a free-kick way over the bar while Ezequiel González tried his luck from a similar distance to Basinas earlier. Lehmann dealt with it easily.
The tempo rose at the start of the second half with Papadopoulos at last able to get a shot away, though the attempt sailed over the bar by some distance. An inswinging cross from Maric proved more troublesome and Lehmann did well to gather it safely.
When Henry fouled Basinas the resulting yellow card was Arsenal's first of the competition. That would not have worried them unduly but the next piece of significant action certainly did as a Panathinaikos free-kick was headed on towards the far post - and as Cole challenged for the ball he was adjudged to have fouled Papadopoulos. The injury forced the striker to leave the field and while he was being carried away to be replaced by Mitu, Basinas stepped up and put the penalty high and wide.
With 15 minutes remaining, though, Loukas Vintra came up with the equaliser, his shot going in off the head of the luckless Cygan. Substitute Reyes almost restored Arsenal's advantage but saw his first effort well saved and his follow-up shot come back off the bar.