Arsenal FC did not allow a missed penalty to check their stride in Belgrade as two late goals ended their losing run of away games in the UEFA Champions League.
It was a remarkable tale of three spot-kicks – only one of which was converted – as the Gunners' claimed a second Group H victory and left FK Partizan without a point. Andrey Arshavin gave the visitors the lead in the 15th minute before Cléo equalised from the spot just past the half-hour. Early in the second half Arshavin missed a penalty following a challenge that brought a red card for Marko Jovanović but Marouane Chamakh and Sébastien Squillaci made light of that with late goals.
Against a replacement goalkeeper in Łukasz Fabiański and a defence which leaked three goals at the weekend, it was little surprise that Partizan saw an offensive approach as their best route to victory. In front of a vociferous home crowd the Serbian champions were quickly in the mood, Radosav Petrović's lacerating through pass giving Cléo a clear run on goal but the weight of yellow shirts eventually halted him.
Alarm bells were ringing for the away team and Squillaci's lax backward header would have allowed Pierre Boya to score but for the ball getting stuck under his body. Arsenal were hanging on but turned the tables in spectacular fashion as Jack Wilshere conjured a shooting chance for Arshavin which the Russian took with commendable ease. Now it was their turn to run amok, Vladimir Stojković blocking well from Arshavin and then Tomáš Rosický.
Partizan were struggling to stay with their visitors but out of nowhere drew level in the 33rd minute. A cross from the left struck Denilson on the arm and Cléo made no mistake with the spot-kick.
There was a lull at the start of the second half, but the game burst into life again in the 56th minute as Chamakh was brought down while chasing another Arshavin pass. It led to a red card for Jovanović but his team did not suffer double punishment as Arshavin's weak penalty was easily saved by Stojković.
The home fans sensed the night might be turning back their way but Chamakh rose high to head Rosický's cross against the bar, following up to restore the Arsenal lead with 19 minutes left. Eleven minutes later Samir Nasri's corner was nodded in by Squillaci but the Gunners were not breathing easily for long as Kieran Gibbs' fouled Saša Ilić. This time Cléo could not beat Fabiański from the spot, and Partizan's last hope had gone.