Alexis Sanchez struck late on as Arsenal started their Champions League campaign with a 1-1 draw at Paris Saint-Germain. Edinson Cavani gave Unai Emery’s side the lead after just 42 seconds, heading Serge Aurier’s cross into the bottom corner. PSG were much the better side for long periods of the game but missed chances cost them as the Gunners fought back through Sanchez, whose strike beat Alphonse Areola in the 78th minute.
Arsene Wenger shocked many with his starting line-up in Paris with the Frenchman selecting David Ospina ahead of Petr Cech, but the Colombian made a number of fine saves and a crucial one to deny Cavani late on.
Substitute Olivier Giroud and Marco Verratti were both sent off for second yellow cards after an off-the-ball incident in stoppage time, but Arsenal held on to for a valuable point.
Wenger sprung a surprise at the Parc des Princes with Ospina starting ahead of Cech and his first action was to pick the ball out of the back of net as Cavani ran off the back of Shkodran Mustafi and Hector Bellerin to head home Aurier’s inch-perfect cross. Arsenal, who also left Giroud and Granit Xhaka on the bench, struggled to get any foothold in the game as PSG continued to dominate and the hosts nearly had a second when Angel Di Maria’s backheel released Adrien Rabiot, but the Frenchman’s shot was well blocked by Laurent Koscielny.
Di Maria was involved again in the 13th minute as his corner nearly caught out Ospina, but the 28-year-old, who made an error against Olympiakos in last season’s competition, got back to tip the ball over the crossbar.
Arsenal finally put together an attack of note in the 22nd minute when Nacho Monreal stood a cross up to the far post for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, only for the winger’s header to be cleared by Marquinhos.
PSG went back on the attack 12 minutes later and they should have had a second when Verratti’s pass found its way to Cavani, who took the ball around Ospina but sliced his shot wide with an open goal at his mercy.
The Uruguay international, leading the line for PSG this season in the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, was in again three minutes before the break, but he could not bring Di Maria’s pass under control with just Ospina to beat.
Arsenal would have been delighted to get to the break just one goal down and they started the second half on the front foot, but Aurier was running riot down the PSG right and another superb cross was turned over by Blaise Matuidi.
Wenger reacted in the 64th minute, bringing on Giroud in place of the ineffective Oxlade-Chamberlain. However, it was still the Ligue 1 champions who looked the more likely to add to their advantage.
Di Maria played in Aurier, but Opsina was quick off his line and smothered the resulting shot. The Arsenal stopper was on hand again moments later to keep out Cavani after a couple of fortunate deflections put the striker through on goal.
Ospina continued to prove his critics wrong in the 72 minute, saving from Di Maria and just six minutes later his side were level.
Mesut Ozil had a poor night on the whole, but he came alive to pick out Alex Iwobi, whose powerful shot was kept out by goalkeeper Alphonse Areola. The ball rebounded to Sanchez, though, and he picked out the bottom corner to bring Arsenal level.
Ospina did well again late on to dive at Cavani’s feet and push the ball to safety as the hosts looked to regain the lead. Areola was then called into action, saving low down to deny Iwobi as the game opened up in the closing stages.
But in the end it was a point apiece as Giroud and Verratti were dismissed in stoppage time for an unsavoury off-the-ball incident.
Source: Sky Sports