BORUSSIA DORTMUND (1) vs ARSENAL (1)
ARSENAL assistant manager Pat Rice declared the Gunners satisfied with a point despite being denied the perfect start to their Champions League group campaign by a spectacular 89th-minute equaliser.
Robin van Persie’s late first-half goal looked set to give the north Londoners a win they barely deserved, having been torn asunder time and again by Borussia Dortmund and their teenage star Mario Goetze.
But with three points in sight the German champions broke Arsenal hearts and got the draw they merited when substitute Ivan Perisic volleyed a wonder-goal past stranded goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.
And Rice, who took charge of the team while suspended manager Arsene Wenger was forced to watch from the stands, saw it as a point gained rather than two lost.
“To defend with such determination is a high quality skill and I don’t think many teams will come here and get a result,” said Rice. “Of course, we would have loved to have got the win here, but a point is a good result.”
A trip to the Westfalenstadion was always likely to be the toughest of Arsenal’s group fixtures, and the first- half underlined that, as Dortmund bombarded the visitors in waves.
Goetze, their 19-year-old playmaker and inspiration, and the livewire Shinji Kagawa, repeatedly sliced through a flimsy Gunners midfield and a nervous rearguard.
Forward Kevin Grosskreutz and Kagawa both wasted openings by blazing over before Robert Lewandowski beat Szczesny only for Bacary Sagna to clear off the line.
But Dortmund’s attacking left them open to the counter and Arsenal duly punished them on 42 minutes when Van Persie intercepted Sebastian Kehl’s loose pass and ran onto Theo Walcott’s defence-splitting ball to beat Roman Weidenfeller.
With a superb victory within touching distance the Gunners tightened up after half-time, stemmed Dortmund’s fluency and continued to threaten on the break intermittently.
And it looked like they had done enough until the 88th minute, when Perisic met a half-cleared free-kick with the sweetest of left-foot volleys that arrowed into the top corner.