PSG had copious amounts of chances to bury the Gunners but failed to add to Edinson Cavani’s first-minute opener, with the Uruguayan the most profligate, and were made to pay as Alexis Sanchez netted a crucial leveller in the second period. Both sides were reduced to 10 men as Marco Verratti and Olivier Giroud saw red.
Their draw, coupled with Ludogorets Razgrad’s 1-1 stalemate against Basel, sent Arsenal to the top of Group A as they bid to secure a more generous last-16 draw.
Wenger spoke in the build-up to the clash about a greater maturity within the Arsenal squad giving him confidence that his side can progress deep into the competition, and avoid their usual last-16 demise. Their late salvo did little to alter the Frenchman’s view.
“We wanted to start with a high pace but for the first 20 minutes we were outpaced. They started much stronger but we were resilient and kept trying to play,” he said.
“You could feel in the first half that if we pushed a little bit more that we could score. Second half we played much better; better possession, more patient in front of their box and maybe they dropped a bit.
“We pushed very high and were vulnerable to the counter-attack but overall it is a good point.”
PSG had only lost one of their previous 39 home matches in European competition and just 42 seconds were on the clock when they punctured a flimsy looking Arsenal backline. Serge Aurier’s whipped cross was met by Cavani, who glanced past David Ospina.
The early wave of PSG pressure kept flowing and Arsenal were fortunate to reach half time with only a one-goal deficit after Cavani skipped past the onrushing Ospina, having seen Verratti’s through ball cut out by a sliding Nacho Monreal, only to wastefully fire wide.
Despite not exerting the same level of control in the second period, PSG were still the most likely to score and Angel di Maria and Aurier exchanged passes to slice through the Arsenal defence as the latter was denied by Ospina.
Selected ahead of Petr Cech, Ospina again came to the Gunners’ rescue on 68 minutes as he thwarted Cavani, while seconds later the oft-maligned Colombian tipped over a Di Maria effort as PSG again breached their rivals’ porous defence.
For all PSG’s dominance, Arsenal managed to conjure a leveller in the 78th minute as Sanchez smashed home his second goal of the season after goalkeeper Alphonse Areola had repelled Alex Iwobi’s initial shot. Ospina again came out on top as Cavani burst through the Arsenal defence and attempted to round the 28-year-old, while play swung to the other end where Areola foiled Iwobi as Arsenal searched for an unlikely winner.
Verratti and substitute Giroud, who only entered the fray on 63 minutes, were dismissed in stoppage time; the Frenchman for a limp push on his Italian counterpart.
Manchester City’s Group C match with Borussia Monchengladbach, meanwhile, will be played on Wednesday after heavy rain forced its postponement last night.