Anderlecht fightback denies Arsenal
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Arsenal FC 3-3 RSC Anderlecht
Arsenal were three up but Anthony Vanden Borre struck twice and Aleksandar Mitrović headed a last-minute equaliser.
Article top media content
• Aleksandar Mitrović heads last-minute equaliser in game which Arsenal lead 3-0
• First-half goals by Mikel Arteta and Alexis Sánchez put Arsenal in control
• Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain makes it three but then Anthony Vanden Borre strikes twice
• Result means Anderlecht can still catch Arsenal for Group D second place
• Next games: Arsenal v Dortmund, Anderlecht v Galatasaray (26 November)
Substitute Aleksandar Mitrović headed a last-minute equaliser to keep RSC Anderlecht in the UEFA Champions League when it seemed Arsenal FC, 3-0 up, were cruising into the last 16 from Group D.
Arsenal dominated possession in the first half but did not have it all their own way. Anderlecht had come so close to beating the Gunners a fortnight previously only to concede twice late on, and they threatened on the break here.
Dennis Praet's shot on eight minutes was narrowly deflected wide by Per Mertesacker, then Wojciech Szczęsny, back from suspension, raced off his line to save Sacha Kljestan's strike nine minutes later. The game was fascinatingly open, with play swinging from end to end. Arsenal were also making chances and Alexis Sánchez hit the woodwork with a blistering effort in the 21st minute before the home side went ahead.
Again Sánchez was involved, the in-form Chilean playing in Danny Welbeck with a pass into the area and after the England striker had been bundled over by Chancel Mbemba, Mikel Arteta stepped up to chip in the resulting penalty.
Four minutes later Arsenal had doubled their lead, this time the irrepressible Sánchez smashing in a volley low to Silvio Proto's right after his free-kick had bounced back to him off the wall. It was the forward's sixth goal in five matches and 11th of the season for his new club.
Anderlecht's difficulties increased at the start of the second period when Mbemba hobbled off injured and Arsenal piled on the pressure. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain added the third on 58 minutes when he burst clear down the left and rifled a low shot into the far corner. In the pouring rain, Anderlecht fought back.
Three minutes later they pulled one back when Anthony Vanden Borre tapped in substitute Andy Kawaya's low cross, then the defender blasted in a spot kick on 73 minutes after Nacho Monreal had hauled down Mitrović.
Frank Acheampong, among others, came close to an equaliser and in the 90th minute Andy Najar's well-weighted cross was met by a diving Mitrović header. Anderlecht can still overtake Arsenal if they win both remaining games and Arsenal lose theirs.