Cyprus Mail

Arsenal and PSG draw as top spot remains undecided

Arsenal squandered their lead and slipped from the top of Group A as Paris St-Germain came from behind to draw 2-2

Paris St Germain put themselves in the box seat to enter the Champions League knockout rounds as Group A winners after an entertaining 2-2 draw at Arsenal on Wednesday.

Arsenal, who like PSG had already qualified for the last 16, looked set to finish top of their group for the first time since 2011 after Marco Verratti’s comical own goal on the hour.

But they were denied when Lucas’s goalbound header was deflected by Alex Iwobi past David Ospina.

It means PSG have 11 points from five games, the same as Arsenal, but have a superior head-to-head courtesy of away goals after the sides drew 1-1 in Paris in September.

The French champions host Ludogorets next when victory will guarantee they finish above the Gunners who travel to Basel.

A point was no less than PSG deserved as they started and finished the game stronger than an Arsenal side who struggled to exert any sustained pressure.

PSG zipped the ball around on the lush Emirates pitch during a confident opening and Edinson Cavani glanced a header wide.

Cavani header was then cleared off the line by Kieran Gibbs.

Arsenal continued to stand off and admire PSG’s passing, much to the annoyance of the crowd, and they paid the price for their lethargy after 18 minutes. Thiago Motta’s precision pass released Blaise Matuidi and his inviting low cross was swept home by the sliding Cavani for his 16th goal of the season.

PSG were content to keep the ball in their own half but were architects of their own downfall seconds before halftime.

Maxwell sloppily conceded possession and Mesut Ozil’s clever blind pass sent Alexis Sanchez free. The Chilean forward’s footwork proved too quick for Grzegorz Krychowiak who brought him down with his trailing leg for a clear penalty.

Giroud, restored to the starting lineup after his late equaliser at Manchester United at the weekend, tucked the spot kick past Alphonse Areola.

Lucas skimmed the crossbar with a free kick early in the second half for PSG but Arsenal then enjoyed their best spell.

Having been gifted their equaliser Arsenal were thankful to the visitors again as they took the lead on the hour.

This time Aaron Ramsey’s shot was blocked and an attempted clearance by Marquinhos cannoned back off his team mate Marco Verrato past the helpless Areola.

PSG equalised when Lucas’s powerful header from a corner looked like being a comfortable save for Ospina before Alex Iwobi intervened and glanced the ball with his head past the keeper.

Cavani, who wasted several chances to bury Arsenal in the 1-1 draw in Paris in September, should have done better when he was clean through on goal but his attempted chip went straight into the hands of Ospina.

And the Uruguayan had his head in his hands again when he sent a diving header wide from in front of goal.

Results from the Champions League on Wednesday:

Ludogorets Razgrad 0
Basel 0

Besiktas 3
Benfica 3

Napoli 0
Dynamo Kiev 0

B. Monchengladbach 1
Man City 1

Celtic 0
Barcelona 2

FC Rostov 3
Bayern Munich 2

Atletico Madrid 2

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