Football

Arsenal open Champions League campaign with win in Marseille

Marseille's Ghanaian forward Jordan Ayew, right, scores a penalty against Arsenal's Polish goalkepper Wojciech Szczesny, during their Champions League Group F soccer match, at the Velodrome Stadium, in Marseille, southern France on Sept 18, 2013. Photo: AP
Arsenal's French forward Olivier Giroud, right, challenges for the ball with Marseille's French defender Rod Fanni, during their Champions League Group F soccer match, at the Velodrome Stadium, in Marseille, southern France on Sept 18, 2013. Photo: AP
Arsenal's forward Theo Walcott, left, from Britain, reacts with Arsenal's French forward Olivier Giroud, center, and Arsenal's French defender Bacary Sagna after scoring against Marseille, during their Champions League Group F soccer match, at the Velodrome Stadium, in Marseille, southern France on Sept 18, 2013. Photo: AP
Gunners seal 2-1 victory late on after unimpressive first-half; Walcott, Ramsey get on scoresheet
Published: 7:20 AM, September 19, 2013
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MARSEILLE (France) — Arsenal recovered from an unimpressive first half to defeat Olympique Marseille 2-1 yesterday (Sept 18) in a clinical opening to their Champions League campaign.

Theo Walcott volleyed home in the 65th minute after benefiting from Jeremy Morel’s defensive blunder before Aaron Ramsey put the result beyond doubt seven minutes from time with a deflected low shot, before the hosts got a consolation goal.

Arsene Wenger’s side, who looked listless in the first half, are level in Group F with Napoli, who beat last season’s runners-up Borussia Dortmund 2-1.

Olympique Marseille had a handful of chances with Andre-Pierre Gignac, Andre Ayew and Rod Fanni coming close to scoring before Jordan Ayew reduced the arrears with a penalty in added time.

“We were efficient even if we were not always on top. We made the difference on little details. That’s how it works in the European Cup,” Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud, who had no scoring opportunity, told Canal Plus.

“It’s tough for them but we’ve got three points, we’re happy.”

Wenger added: “Marseille played an excellent first half. We were too shy, below par. Then we benefited from the fact they slowed the pace. We did not play a great game but we were good in the key moments.”

Marseille forward Mathieu Valbuena summed it up by saying: “We played a good game but at the highest level; the best team do not always win.”

Elie Baup’s side, who were eager to make the most of their home games in a tricky group, pressed high and were the first in action when Gignac latched on to Morel’s cross after two minutes in a fast-paced opening.

Arsenal dominated possession early on but lacked penetration up front. The visitors’ best chance came in the 10th when Walcott’s crossed shot was easily blocked by Steve Mandanda.

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