Gunners blow lead – and top spot in group


UNDER-FIRE Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger lamented his side’s failure to snatch top spot in Champions League Group B last night after watching them surrender a lead to Olympiacos.

Midfielder Tomas Rosicky capped a fine first-half display by rifling the Gunners ahead, setting them on course to pip Schalke to first place and an easier last 16 draw. But Aaron Ramsey’s error allowed Giannis Maniatis to poke an equaliser and Kostas Mitroglu completed the comeback with a low curling shot from outside the penalty box.

It leaves Arsenal with just two wins from their last nine games, but Wenger refused to be too hard on his second-string team, who had qualified with one match to spare.

“We had a good first half but dropped physically in the second,” he said. “Many of the players are not used to that level. We needed the second goal tonight. We have to wait for the draw but ideally you would want to finish first.”

Rosicky opened the scoring on 38 minutes after a cut-back from the erratic Gervinho, and the Czech’s half-time withdrawal precipitated Arsenal’s collapse. Ramsey’s wayward control teed up Maniatis before substitute Mitroglu beat Wojciech Szczesny from 20 yards.