Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Ibrahim Afellay scored in the final 14 minutes as FC Schalke 04 became the first foreign visitors to win at the Arsenal Stadium, climbing above Arsenal FC and to the top of UEFA Champions League Group B.
The home side had won their first two games in this season's competition and were unbeaten in 16 European matches in north London; indeed, the last time they had lost to non-English opposition at home was September 2003. Schalke, however, produced a vibrant display that finally got its reward when Huntelaar fired in with 14 minutes left. Ten minutes later Afellay tapped in a clinching second to give the German club a first victory in England at the sixth attempt.
The teams' only previous encounters came in the 2001/02 first group stage when each won their home game and both began brightly here. Arsenal were the first to threaten as Lukas Podolski's low cross was turned wide by Gervinho and, though the Bundesliga outfit kept their shape impressively, Santi Cazorla then went close, his shot deflecting wide for a corner.
Schalke were not without some menace of their own, Huntelaar heading wide and then rifling past the post when unmarked eight metres out after Roman Neustädter's long pass had given Atsuto Uchida the opportunity to pick out the Netherlands striker. Huub Stevens's men continued to push for a breakthrough as the second half started, Jefferson Farfán escaping down the right and finding Benedikt Höwedes with a low centre, but the defender fired over.
Farfán continued to trouble the Arsenal rearguard down Schalke's right flank, while Gervinho was the Gunners' main outlet. Whenever the Ivorian managed to work a glimpse of goal, however, the visiting defenders were quick to swarm around him and snuff out any shooting chance.
That discipline and tireless effort brought its reward at the other end in the 76th minute. Arsenal were unable to clear their lines and Afellay made them pay, nodding through for Huntelaar to beat Vito Mannone with a low strike.
With Arsenal forced to push forward, Schalke caught them out again with four minutes remaining to make sure of a memorable win. Farfán once more skipped away down the right and his measured low cross left Afellay with a tap-in at the far post. Schalke therefore move onto seven points, one more than their opponents, who will seek to turn the tables when the teams meet again in Gelsenkirchen on matchday four.