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Arsenal strike late to break Anderlecht hearts

Arsenal struck twice in the last two minutes for a smash and grab 2-1 away victory at Anderlecht

By Martyn Herman

Arsenal struck twice in the last two minutes for a smash and grab 2-1 away victory at Anderlecht in Champions League Group D on Wednesday to earn three vital points.

The Londoners produced a lethargic display and were trailing to Andy Najar’s 71st-minute header before Kieran Gibbs equalised after 89 minutes and then Lukas Podolski smashed in a close-range winner.

It was tough luck on Anderlecht who had seemed on course for a first victory in the competition in 11 attempts.
Arsenal remain in second place with six points, three behind Borussia Dortmund who have won all of their games.

Neither side managed a shot on target in a forgettable first half in the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium.
Arsenal offered precious little going forward with Alexis Sanchez the only player showing any real desire.
After the tepid first half the second began in more lively fashion with Ibrahima Conte raising the noise levels with a shot deflected wide.

Arsenal responded minutes later when Sanchez found himself unmarked with his back to goal in the six-yard box but he failed to angle his header away from grateful keeper Silvio Proto.

It was the hosts who made the breakthrough though with 19 minutes remaining and it was goal of real quality.

Najar played the ball to Dennis Praet who twisted and turned Arsenal’s languid defence before clipping the perfect cross to the far post where Najar dispatched a firm header past Emiliano Martinez, Arsenal’s third-choice keeper who was making his Champions League debut.

It almost got better for Anderlecht when Anthony Vanden Borre’s mis-hit shot looped against the post with Arsenal’s defence in disarray.
Sanchez rustled the side-netting with a free kick but Anderlecht looked the more likely to score as the crowd began chanting ‘ole’s’ with every home pass.

It all went sour for Anderlecht though as first left-back Gibbs produced a superb volley from a Calum Chambers cross.
Suddenly revived, Arsenal went for the unlikeliest of victories and with the clock at 90 minutes, Sanchez caused havoc in the area and his low cross fell to Podolski who thrashed the ball high into the net.

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