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Olympiacos prove too much for Arsenal

Arsenal 2-3 Olympiacos
Alfred Finnbogason's 66th-minute strike proved the difference in a thrilling contest in London as Olympiacos won in England for the first time.

2015/16 highlights: Arsenal 2-3 Olympiacos
  • Felipe Pardo opens the scoring in the 33rd minute
  • Theo Walcott draws Arsenal level two minutes later
  • David Ospina drops Kostas Fortounis's corner for Olympiacos's second
  • Alexis Sánchez equalises but Alfred Finnbogason strikes the winner within a minute
  • Next fixtures: Arsenal v Bayern München, Dinamo Zagreb v Olympiacos (20 October)

Olympiacos produced a thrilling performance to defeat Arsenal 3-2 in UEFA Champions League Group F and win for the first time in 13 attempts in England.

Three times the Greek champions led and twice Arsenal battled back to equalise, but Alfred Finnbogason's unanswered 66th-minute strike settled an incredible contest.

With Olympiacos looking to hit Arsenal on the break, both sides created chances in the early stages, with the best falling to Arsenal – and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott – in quick succession as they surged forward following Olympiacos attacks.

Olympiacos appeared compact in defence with Esteban Cambiasso shielding the back four, and with Patjim Kasami and Kostas Fortounis prepared to break at speed they also threatened going forward. Arsenal in contrast seemed hesitant at the back, and when no one picked up Felipe Pardo from a 33rd-minute corner the forward drilled in a deflected shot from the edge of the area.

Olympiacos celebrate going 2-1 up
Olympiacos celebrate going 2-1 up©AFP/Getty Images

Arsenal responded immediately, with Alexis Sánchez on the left threading a pass through to Walcott to fire in off goalkeeper Roberto. Olympiacos did not lose their composure and from another corner restored their advantage five minutes before the interval, as Ospina dropped Fortounis's high cross into his net.

Arsenal picked up the pace after half-time with the introduction of Aaron Ramsey for Francis Coquelin on the hour and within minutes both Per Mertesacker and Santo Cazlorla had come close. Sánchez drew Arsenal level on 65 minutes when he headed in Walcott's cross, but Olympiacos were back in front within a minute.

Olympiacos went straight up field from the kick-off and Pardo crossed low for substitute Finnbogason to knock in at the near post. With a pair of matches with Bayern to come and still no points on the board, Arsenal have a mountain to climb, whole Olympiacos travel to Zagreb invigorated.

Key player: Kostas Fortounis
The 22-year-old playmaker had a hand in all three Olympiacos goals – delivering the corners for the first two and taking the blocked shot that led to their winner. Disciplined and focused in his defensive duties when Arsenal were on the ball, he was always quick to break when their attacks broke down.   

Wenger bemoans Arsenal errors

Defence, defence, defence
Perhaps victims of their own success, Arsenal appeared seduced by the praise that followed their attacking display at Leicester on Saturday and forgot the basis on which all successful teams are built – defence. Arsenal's back line was error-prone and lacked concentration at key moments. Bayern will be licking their lips in anticipation.

Old master
At 35 years of age Esteban Cambiasso still has what it takes to make the difference at the highest level. A UEFA Champions League winner with Internazionale Milano in 2010, the Argentinian was the perfect shield for the Olympiacos back four and his experience was key in marshalling an otherwise youthful midfield.

For all of Arsenal's generosity, this was an Olympiacos victory built on team spirit and character. Twice they lost the lead and twice they hit back immediately to regain it. Alfred Finnbogason's winner was just reward for a side determined to settle for nothing but victory.

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