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Montpellier undone by swift Arsenal comeback

Published: Tuesday 18 September 2012, 22.50CET
Montpellier Hérault 1-2 Arsenal FC
Behind to Younés Belhanda's early penalty, Arsenal mounted a swift comeback and won thanks to Gervinho's first UEFA Champions League goal.
by Ian Holyman
from La Mosson Stadium

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Match statistics

MontpellierArsenal

Goals scored1
 
2
on target10
 
5
off target8
 
1
Corners6
 
5
Offsides6
 
2
Fouls committed13
 
11
Yellow cards2
 
1
Red Cards0
 
0
Possession (%)50
 
50

Standings

Last updated: 16/10/2012 19:27 CET

Legend:

P: Played   
Pts: Points   
 
Published: Tuesday 18 September 2012, 22.50CET

Montpellier undone by swift Arsenal comeback

Montpellier Hérault 1-2 Arsenal FC
Behind to Younés Belhanda's early penalty, Arsenal mounted a swift comeback and won thanks to Gervinho's first UEFA Champions League goal.

Two goals in three minutes earned Arsenal FC a comeback victory at Montpellier Hérault SC in their UEFA Champions League Group B opener.

Having won Ligue 1 last season, coach René Girard was asked what his next dream was in Monday's pre-match press conference. "To swim like Michael Phelps," came the reply; 24 hours later it was a case of sink or swim for his squad, who so very nearly kept their heads above water. Younés Belhanda's impudent penalty gave the tournament debutants a ninth-minute lead, but two strikes in three minutes from Lukas Podolski and the in-form Gervinho ensured Arsenal, who weathered a formidable second-half storm, made the perfect start.

Though Montpellier initially allowed Arsenal to dictate, the hosts did at least show a readiness to break quickly. Belhanda eagerly charged onto a searching pass before his flight was halted by Thomas Vermaelen's ill-advised lunge. Unruffled, Belhanda chipped in the spot kick with more than a dash of derring-do.

Such was the bravado of the Moroccan international, the fact that this was Montpellier's competition bow was quickly forgotten. Arsenal, however, delivered a swift, brutal reminder.

The home fans who warmly applauded Olivier Giroud before kick-off would have felt somewhat less charitable towards the striker who helped them win last season's title when his first-time pass teed up Podolski to conclude a hypnotic passing move. The French international's persistence then played a part in the ball running to Carl Jenkinson, whose overlapping run ended with a low cross turned in by Gervinho for his first UEFA Champions League goal.

Montpellier's sting seemingly drawn, the game, and the previously boisterous supporters, were calmed only to erupt once more when Rémi Cabella, darting in from the right, fizzed a low shot goalwards. The faintest of touches from Vito Mannone was just enough to prevent the equaliser. The Arsenal goalkeeper should have been called upon again shortly after the break when Cabella robbed the dallying Abou Diaby, yet the Montpellier midfielder fired recklessly into the crowd.

The lack of composure in the 22-year-old's shot was all the more surprising given, soon after, he casually clipped a lob from distance which came back off the bar. That relief was shared by Montpellier fans when goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren beat away Santi Cazorla's angled effort. The travelling contingent must have barely been able to look when Belhanda found himself in front of goal only to shoot hurriedly at Mannone; cue relief for Arsenal.

Last updated: 27/11/12 4.08CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2013/matches/round=2000347/match=2009498/postmatch/report/index.html#gervinho+earns+arsenal

Lineups

montpellier

Montpellier

arsenal

Arsenal

16
JourdrenGeoffrey Jourdren (GK)
24
MannoneVito Mannone (GK)
2
BocalyGarry Bocaly
2
DiabyAbou Diaby
Yellow Card1
3
Yanga-MbiwaMapou Yanga-Mbiwa (C)
Yellow Card41
4
MertesackerPer Mertesacker
4
HiltonHilton
5
VermaelenThomas Vermaelen (C)
5
BedimoHenri Bedimo
8
ArtetaMikel Arteta
8
MounierAnthony Mounier
Substitution68
9
PodolskiLukas Podolski
Goal16
Substitution90
10
BelhandaYounes Belhanda
Goal9
Yellow Card84
12
GiroudOlivier Giroud
Substitution76
13
EstradaMarco Estrada
Substitution78
19
Santi CazorlaSanti Cazorla
Substitution90
19
CamaraSouleymane Camara
Substitution78
25
JenkinsonCarl Jenkinson
20
CabellaRémy Cabella
27
GervinhoGervinho
Goal18
23
SaihiJamel Saihi
28
GibbsKieran Gibbs

Substitutes

1
PionnierLaurent Pionnier (GK)
60
SheaJames Shea (GK)
6
MarveauxJoris Marveaux
6
KoscielnyLaurent Koscielny
11
HerreraEmanuel Herrera
Substitution78
11
André SantosAndré Santos
12
CongréDaniel Congré
14
WalcottTheo Walcott
Substitution90
18
Aït-FanaKarim Aït-Fana
Substitution68
15
Oxlade-ChamberlainAlex Oxlade-Chamberlain
22
StambouliBenjamin Stambouli
Substitution78
16
RamseyAaron Ramsey
Substitution76
27
JeunechampCyril Jeunechamp
22
CoquelinFrancis Coquelin
Substitution90

Coach

René Girard (FRA) Steve Bould (ENG)

Referee

Carlos Velasco Carballo (ESP)

Assistant referees

Roberto Alonso (ESP), Juan Yuste (ESP)

Fourth official

Roberto Díaz Pérez del Palomar (ESP)

Additional assistant referees

Carlos Gómez (ESP), Carlos Del Cerro (ESP)

Legend:

  • GoalsGoals
  • Own goalOwn goal
  • PenaltiesPenalties
  • Missed PenaltiesMissed Penalties
  • reds_cardRed Cards
  • yellow_cardsYellow cards
  • yellow_red_cardsYellow/red card
  • SubstitutionSubstitution
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