Alexis Sanchez and David Ospina save the day for Arsenal

Gunners' Champions League campaign gets off to a shaky start in Paris, but Arsenal emerge with a barely-deserved point

Alexis Sanchez scores for Arsenal
(Image credit: Getty)

Paris Saint-Germain 1 Arsenal 1.

A goal 12 minutes from time by Alexis Sanchez secured Arsenal a precious point in Paris in their Champions League Group A opener against French champions, Paris Saint-Germain.

But even the most one-eyed of Gooners will admit it was barely what the visitors deserved during a match in which they were dominated. Had it been Zlatan Ibrahimovic leading the PSG attack the French champions would have scored a hatful of goals. But the Swede is now at Manchester United and the man charged with filling his boots, Edison Cavani, is nowhere near the same standard.

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Admittedly the Uruguayan put the hosts a goal up after just 42 seconds, deftly heading Serge Aurier's wonderful cross past the helpless David Ospina. But thereafter Cavani wasted chance after chance as PSG tore through the Arsenal defence at will, and he later owned up to his profligacy. "I think we deserved better tonight," said Cavani "The feeling in the changing room is a bit negative. We had chances but we did not win. I take responsibility for that because I only scored the one goal and those two points we dropped will be important at the end of the competition."

Two points dropped for PSG but one earned for the Gunners thanks to Sanchez's crisp strike on 78 minutes. It came after Alex Iwobi registered Arsenal's first proper chance of the match, forcing a save from Alphonse Areola, which ricocheted to Sanchez on the edge of the box.

It salvaged a point from a match that threatened to run away from the north London side in the opening minutes. With new signing Shkodran Mustafi all at sea in defence, it was Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina who saved his side's blushes with a string of fine saves to keep the Gunners within sight of PSG.

The Colombian keeper more than atoned for his blunder in last season's Champions' League tie against Olympiakos as he denied Cavani, Aurier and Angel di María. His performance justified Arsene Wenger's decision to start with Ospina in place of the more experienced Petr Cech. "I have two world-class goalkeepers," Wenger said, when asked to explain Ospina's inclusion. "I can give them both games. If they do not play, you can't keep two world-class goalkeepers."

Other than Ospina's performance, and that of Sanchez, who toiled manfully in the role of lone striker, there was little else world-class about Arsenal. Alex Iwobi gave it his all, in marked contrast to Mesut Ozil, who once again went missing on the big stage, and the evening ended with sub Olivier Giroud shown a red card after a clash with Marco Verratti, who was also dismissed.

Not for the first time in recent seasons the only positive Wenger could find was the spirit of his players in fighting back despite their obvious inferiority. "We wanted to start at a high pace and after a minute we are 1-0 down," he told reporters. "For 20 minutes we were outpaced, they started much better than us but we were resilient... away from home you have to battle up front and Alexis Sanchez did well. He was isolated at times and in the second half it was easier for him."

PSG coach Unai Emery rued the result and conceded the outcome would have been different but for Cavani's inaccuracy. "I am not happy with the result, but I am happy with the way we played," he said. "We created seven clear-cut chances...[Cavani] wasn't the best but I said that the first thing is creating the chances. Then we have to work on confidence. Once you have optimism, that's when you start to score goals."

PSG vs Arsenal LIVE: Alexis Sanchez saves Gunners after nightmare start

13 September

FULL TIME: PSG 1 Arsenal 1. Alexis Sanchez scored a second half equaliser as Arsenal earned a share of the spoils against Paris Saint-Germain but the Gunners' hero was goalkeeper David Ospina who made four fine stops in the second half to keep his side in the game.

The Gunners went behind after just 42 seconds of the match and by the time Sanchez scored in the 78th minute the French side should have been out of sight. However, Edinson Cavani, who opened the scoring in the first minute missed a hatful of chances and Ospina produced a string of fine stops to deny him and Angel di Maria in the second period.

The game ended with both sides reduced to ten men as substute Olivier Giroud and Marco Verratti of PSG were shown red cards after an off-the-ball clash.

The Gunners were dire in the first half but improved in the second although they will be happier with a point than PSG who will feel they deserved more, after an, at times, open game that should not have finished 1-1.

94 mins: Giroud has looked fired up ever since he came on and an off the ball clash with Verratti has ended both their evenings. And the drama might nit be done as PSG have a corner.

93 mins: RED CARDS. Arsenal push forward looking for a late winner, but PSG win a foul and there is some off the ball action involving Verratti and Giroud. And both are sent off!

90 mins: PSG pour forward in the final minute of the match but Arsenal stand firm. David Ospina doesn't even need to make a save, which must be a relief for Arsene Wenger. We will play four minutes of injury time.

88 mins: Giroud talks himself into a yellow card. He has been on edge ever since he came on.

86 mins: Having grabbed an equaliser the Gunners should be happy with a point, but Iwobi wants more and dances into the box but loses the ball. A late winner would certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons.

83 mins: It's end to end again and Iwobi forces a save from Areola as the Gunners go for an equaiser. Javier Pastore is on for Krychowiak, and Meunier has replaced the excellent Aurier. Elneny is about to replace Ozil for Arsenal

81 mins: Sanchez may have scored but there is no doubt about Arsenal's man of the match - it's David Ospina who produces another stunning save to deny Cavani. The Uruguayan was clean through on goal but could not get round the Colombian keeper, who dived full length to deflect the ball away from the striker. Brilliant goalkeeping.

78 mins: GOAL! PSG 1 Arsenal 1: Arsenal are level through Alexis Sanchez who slams the ball home from 18 yards as Arsenal finally fashion a decent attack.

Alex Iwobi had the first chance but Areola produced a great save, but the ball ricoheted to Sanchez on the edge of the box and his low shot found the bottom of the net. They might not really deserve it but Arsenal are level.

74 mins: The influential Rabiot makes way as Thiago Motta comes on for PSG.

71 mins: Ospina provides a third great save in as many minutes to deny Di Maria! The ball dropped for the Argentine in the box and he fired off a shot that the Colombian tipped over the bar.

Granit Xhaka comes on for Coquelin. Can he give the Gunners a solid base to launch a comeback.

69 mins: Another great save from Ospina to deny Cavani, who should have scored four tonight. The chance came from a great driving run from Rabiot who charged the Arsenal defence and when the ball came loose Cavani was on hand, only to be thwarted by the keeper.

67 mins: Good save from Ospina to deny the man of the moment Aurier, who is played in by Cavani. The keeper reacts well to dive at his feet and keep the score to 1-0.

65 mins: Sanchez and Iwobi combine through the middle but Iwobi cannot get a shot off as the Gunners burst into the box.

62 mins: The Change that the Arsenal fans want to see is imminent with Olivier Giroud getting ready to come on. Oxlade Chamberlain must know that it is his number that is going up and makes one last effort with a run into the box, but it comes to nothing and he is hauled off. Giroud on.

59 mins: The game has settled into an entertaining rhythm but with little penetration for either side. Aurier, who has been the best player on the pitch this evening then finds the side netting as Oxlade Chamberlain goes flying over the advertising hoardings.

55 mins: It's end to end at the moment as Arsenal pour forward and Coquelin wins a corner before PSG counter. But it remains 1-0 to the French side.

53 mins: Di Maria goes through on goal with Monreal for company and goes down in the box, but the referee waves away the calls for a penalty. The contact was minimal and he was looking for a penalty.

52 mins: Arsenal have had more of the ball this half but their passing isn't making any headway.

49 mins: Ozil floats the ball into the box and who is on the end of it? Francis Coquelin, who is furthest man forward. Curious stuff from the Gunners. Needless to say he is muscled out of it and PSG clear.

47 mins: Better from Arsenal at the start of the second half as they fire some trademark passes around on the edge of the box. It comes to Sanchez but he cannot get a shot away. Then PSG break and have a four against three but can't make it count.

46 mins: We're off again. Arsenal have made no changes at half time. Giroud remains on the bench.

HALF TIME: PSG 1 Arsenal 0. Paris Saint Germain stunned visitors Arsenal within a minute of kick off as Serge Aurier and Edinson Cavani caught the Gunners cold.

The Uruguayan striker found himself unmarked in the box after Aurier's blistering run down the right, and headed past a dumfounded David Ospina after 42 seconds of the game.

The goal actually came at the end of a fine move that saw the home side move the ball from left to right and their passing and movement was a feature of the rest of the half.

Arsenal were lucky not to go further behind as PSG piled on the pressure and Cavani wasted two more gilt edged chances.

For their part the Gunners looked short of ideas and lightweight in midfield, and Arsene Wenger will have to make changes if they are to pose any kind of threat in the second half. The travelling fans made their feelings known singing loudly for the introduction of Olivier Giroud, who was left on the bench by the Arsenal boss.

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45 mins: PSG seem in complete control as the half meanders to a close, with all the play in the Arsenal half. Oxlade-Chamberlain loses the ball and looks completely disinterested - and it is clear that Arsene Wenger will have to make some changes as the whistle goes.

42 mins: Another huge miss by Cavani. It's Verratti who dinks the ball over the top of the defence to find Cavani onside and in acres of space in the box. He has his back to goal and takes the ball on his chest, but loses his footing. What a let off.

37 mins: PSG have reasserted control here and win another corner, but Arsenal win a foul in the box. The French side have been pulling the Gunners all over the field in the first half.

34 mins: What a miss from Cavani! Verratti played a lovely ball through the middle that Monreal could only get a toe to, sending Cavani in on goal. He rounds Ospina but sends the ball too wide and cannot drag it back on target with the goal gaping.

That was the second defence splitting ball from Verratti in two minutes, who seconds earlier almost played Maxwell in.

31 mins: The Arsenal fans are sending a clear message to Arsene Wenger as they sing out for Olivier Giroud, making themselves heard above the home fans. There could be more recriminations if Arsenal get nothing from this game.

29 mins: Aurier is in the thick of things again down the right, firing in another lovely cross that Mustafi does well to clear behind. Di Maria whips in the corner but Arsenal survive.

24 mins: There is a booking for Coquelin for a rash challenge on Rabiot outside the PSG box. That could prove significant as Arsenal chase the game. The game is getting slightly scrappy with a series of fouls for both teams.

22 mins: A chance for Arsenal as Monreal does well down the left, gets into the box and lifts the ball to Oxlade Chamberlain at the far post, but his header is cleared by Marquinhos. Arsenal have a corner which is cleared behind for another one, and this time Mustafi heads wide.

19 mins: Colombian keeper Ospina rushes out of his box to head clear as the ball is played over the top of the Arsenal defence. It looked as though he may have misjudged his position as he charged out there, but the danger passes.

17 mins: Arsenal have a measure of control until they lose possession and PSG threaten another break. The French side look very dangerous with the ball.

15 mins: Finally some Arsenal pressure as a long range effort from Sanchez takes a deflection and goes for a corner. Mustafi can't connect with the ball into the box but PSG can't clear but the Gunners pour forward again. It looks as though they have finally turned up for the match.

12 mins: There's another corner for PSG as Aurier breaks down the right yet again. Di Maria takes the corner and forces a brilliant save from Ospina as he goals to goal from the set piece! PSG are on fire here and Di Maria certainly looks in the mood... but so too do Aurier and Rabiot.

8 mins: Verratti is booked for a clumsy foul on Coquelin but Arsenal can't make the free kick count with a poor delivery into the box. The Gunners cannot hold onto the ball and Di Maria puts Rabiot through with a back heel but Koscielny clears. Arsenal scramble the corner clear.

4 mins: Well who do you blame for that? Possibly Monreal who was beaten down the flank, or Koscielny and Mustafi who had not sorted out the marking. Either way the Gunners looked stunned and PSG are right on top and Arsenal are forced to defend a corner in rather desperate fashion.

1 min: GOAL! PSG 1 Arsenal 0. Serge Aurier lives up to his name and surged down the right, crosses the ball for Edinson Cavani to head home unmarked after 42 seconds. What a disaster for the Gunners! Not much Ospina could have done but that is not what the reserve keeper would have wanted.

1 min: We are underway in Paris and PSG score within 50 seconds!

Arsene Wenger has made three changes to the side that beat Southampton for the Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain.

Reserve keeper David Ospina replaces Petr Cech in goal, Theo Walcott misses out with a knee injury and is replaced by Alex Iwobi and Alexis Sanchez starts up front in place of new signing Lucas Perez, with Olivier Giroud on the bench.

But despite playing only one up front Arsenal look set to attack with Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny on the bench and Santi Cazorla alongside Francis Coquelin in central midfield.

Shkodran Mustafi starts his second game for the Gunners with a different keeper behind him.


Paris Saint-Germain: Areola, Aurier, Marquinhos, Silva, Maxwell, Verratti, Krychowiak, Rabiot, Di Maria, Cavani, Matuidi

Substitutes: Trapp, Meunier, Kimpembe, Motta, Pastore, Lucas, Jese

Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Cazorla, Coquelin, Iwobi, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sanchez

Substitutes: Cech, Holding, Gibbs, Xhaka, Elneny, Perez, Giroud

Arsenal vs PSG: Can Wenger rekindle love as Giroud returns?

13 September

Arsene Wenger launched the first attack in the psychological war ahead of Arsenal's Champions League clash against Paris Saint-Germain tonight by suggesting the French side are not the same force since Zlatan Ibrahimovic left the club.

In four seasons the Swede scored 156 goals in 180 matches for PSG - a club record - but since joining Manchester United in the summer the French outfit have struggled to fill the huge void left by his departure. With just seven points from their opening four matches in Ligue 1, the champions lie seventh in the table with new manager Unai Emery already under pressure.

And wily Wenger sought to ramp that pressure up a couple of notches during the pre-match press conference by airing his opinion on Ibrahimovic's departure. "They lost more than a player with Ibrahimovic," reflected the Arsenal manager. "He was the leader, the captain, a charismatic carrier of the ambition of the club and it's always difficult to measure when you lose a player of that stature, how big the damage is."

Laurent Blanc's sacking, the result of PSG's failure to reach a Champions League final during his three years in charge, is also a factor behind the French side's slow start. "At the moment they have also changed managers so they are trying to find their feet," said Wenger, whose own side have hardly set the Premier League alight in the last month.

Nonetheless Arsenal - who have the same number of Premier League points as PSG after four matches and also lie seventh in the table - travel to Paris aware that they might never have a better chance of beating the French side, who last season eliminated Chelsea from the Champions League before losing to Manchester City in the quarter-final.

Olivier Giroud is expected to make his first start of the season up front for the visitors while his French team-mate, Laurent Koscielny will start alongside Shkodran Mustafi at centre-back after recovering from a facial injury sustained during Saturday's 2-1 win against Southampton.

A victory in Paris against the group favourites would see Arsenal assume that mantle in a pool that also contains FC Basel of Switzerland and Bulgarian outfit Ludogorets. And if the Gunners do win no-one will be more upset within PSG than club president Nasser al-Khelaifi, who on two occasions has tried to lure Wenger to the Parc des Princes.

The first time was in 2011, the year PSG was bought by Qatar Sports Investments, and a further advance was made to Wenger in 2013 when Carlo Ancelotti's tenure came to an end. Asked why he had turned down PSG, Wenger replied: "Because I love where I am. I know well the owners, but I feel always I remained loyal to Arsenal Football Club because I think it's a club that has the qualities I love."

In recent seasons the affection shown by Arsenal fans to their manager has dimmed but victory tonight in City of Love would go some to rekindling the romance. "I like to come to Paris," Wenger said. "It is a city I love, it's my country, a country I love."

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