Fenerbahçe SK kept their faint hopes of UEFA Champions League progress alive by frustrating Arsenal FC in a goalless draw in north London.
The Turkish side rode their luck at times against opponents who dominated the possession but that will not bother Luis Aragonés's men, who earned only their second point of the campaign thanks to a brave rearguard action. Arsenal, for their part, will rue the loss of two points against Group G's bottom team, although FC Porto's comeback at FC Dynamo Kyiv meant they at least retained their position at the section's summit. Fenerbahçe, ironically, ended the night a point further adrift than they had begun it.
With the sound of Bonfire Night fireworks audible in the distance, Arsenal had threatened an explosive start against rivals they overwhelmed 5-2 in Istanbul a fortnight ago. Arsène Wenger's lineup featured six changes from that contest, notably the inclusion of goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański, for his first UEFA Champions League appearance for the Gunners, and 17-year-old Aaron Ramsey, yet they picked up where they had left off in Turkey.
Robin van Persie was the first to go close as the recipient of a lovely dinked ball over the back line from Cesc Fàbregas. On his weaker right foot, however, the Dutchman steered wide before colliding with Volkan Demirel. The Fenerbahçe goalkeeper required treatment but was soon back on his feet to deny Ramsey with a near-post stop after the young Welshman had shown nice footwork to sidestep Roberto Carlos.
The red tide kept rolling towards Volkan's goal and he must have breathed a sigh of relief when Samir Nasri miscontrolled when presented with a clear shooting chance. The Turkey custodian then palmed a Fàbregas cross straight to Van Persie yet somehow the ball stayed out, Selçuk Şahin deflecting the close-range shot over the crossbar. Fenerbahçe were seeking their first win but, without their injured playmaker Alex, they failed to test Fabiański once in the opening period. Instead they were grateful to their No1 for a superb save that kept the game goalless at the break as Van Persie turned Lugano on the edge of the six-metre box and let fly only for Volkan to somehow tip the ball against the crossbar.
On the back foot
Fabiański was finally called into action four minutes after the restart to turn behind an Uğur Boral shot as Fenerbahçe launched a rare counterattack. Volkan had already palmed over a Kolo Touré free-kick, though, and the visitors remained on the back foot, Van Persie heading narrowly over after substitutes Carlos Vela and Abou Diaby had worked a crossing opportunity for Gaël Clichy.
With so many luminous yellow shirts behind the ball, Arsenal were now struggling to pick holes in a rearguard manned superbly by Lugano and Edu. Their defensive effort was summed up when Van Persie span into a shooting position only for Lugano to fling his body in the way. To compound Arsenal's frustrations they lost Mikaël Silvestre to a bloodied nose after the Frenchman took a blow to the face from Semih Şentürk, although Fenerbahçe's own night was somewhat marred by yellow cards for Selçuk Şahin and Lugano that leave both suspended for the must-win match against Porto on 25 November.