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Arsenal miss top spot with defeat at Olympiacos

Tuesday 4 December 2012 22.45 CET
Giannis Maniatis celebrates his equaliser for Olympiacos against Arsenal

Olympiacos FC defeated Arsenal FC 2-1 in Piraeus to deny the Gunners top spot in Group B and end their own UEFA Champions League campaign on a high note.

Tomáš Rosický, starting for the first time since UEFA EURO 2012, opened the scoring against the run of play. However, second-half strikes from Giannis Maniatis and substitute Kostas Mitroglou earned the Greek champions victory and forced Arsenal to settle for second in the section. An away success would have taken them through as winners because of FC Schalke 04's 1-1 draw against Montpellier Hérault SC. Leonardo Jardim's side enter the UEFA Europa League round of 32.

With a number of key first-team players rested, 20-year-old Jernade Meade made his first start at left-back in Arsène Wenger's 150th UEFA Champions League match. Rosický and Marouane Chamakh made their first appearances in the competition this term.

Following a lively start from Arsenal, with Gervinho trying his luck with an early snapshot before playing in Chamakh, only for the Moroccan international to lose his footing, it was the hosts who sought to assert their dominance. After Vassilis Torossidis went close with a header which was cleared off the line by Carl Jenkinson, Djamel Abdoun became the focal point of Olympiacos's enterprising play, stinging the palms of Wojciech Szczęsny with a fierce shot.

Rafik Djebbour then headed straight at the Arsenal keeper from the resulting corner before Abdoun's mazy run created an opening for Torossidis, yet his tame attempt sailed over. Arsenal held firm and took the lead in the 38th minute when Gervinho broke down the right and picked out Rosický, who finished with aplomb with a side-footed effort. It was his first goal since the 3-0 home victory against AC Milan on 6 March.

Andrey Arshavin replaced Rosický at half-time and the diminutive Russian international nodded narrowly over from a Chamakh cross as Arsenal began strongly. Roy Carroll made a fine stop from Arshavin's strike as the Gunners looked for a second, while at the other end Szczęsny made a sprawling save to keep out Paulo Machado's header.

The Arsenal keeper could do little about Maniatis's close-range finish after 64 minutes, however, when the Olympiacos midfielder scored from Kostas Manolas's knock-down to net a deserved equaliser. Mitroglou replaced Abdoun in the 72nd minute and the substitute won the game barely 60 seconds later with a superb curling shot from the edge of the area.

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