Arsenal’s unbeaten run ended on unlucky 13 as Robert Lewandowski stamped out their comeback with a late Champions League goal on the break for Borussia Dortmund.
Visitors Dortmund took an early lead through Henrikh Mkhitaryan at the Emirates Stadium, but Olivier Giroud equalised before half time. Lewandowski escaped proper punishment for an elbow, however, and went to down the Gunners.
Arsene Wenger rested Santi Cazorla and had to do without midfield anchor Mathieu Flamini as he suffered a concussion in the 4-1 win over Norwich. Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosicky were promoted into the starting XI from the weekend.
Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund welcomed back German defenders Mats Hummels and Marcel Schmelzer from domestic suspension and injury respectively. Ilkay Gundogan and Lukasz Piszczek, who played in last season’s final, remained long-term injury absentees.
With midfield congested from the get go, Arsenal started slowly and Ramsey’s mistake was clinically punished by the visitors on 15 minutes. Lewandowski seized possession, allowing Armenia international Mkhitaryan to fire past the exposed Wojciech Szczesny.
Falling behind proved a wake-up call for the Gunners, however, as Giroud’s willingness to run the channels stretched Dortmund. Hummels upended the French striker on the edge of the box and picked up a deserved booking.
Movement on the other flank from Giroud then led to a Rosicky volley when Schmelzer’s clearance fell to the Czech captain. Hummels atoned for his cynical challenge earlier by clearing this effort, which had keeper Roman Weidenfellen beaten, off the line.
Five minutes before the break Arsenal levelled. Dortmund goalie Weidenfellen and defender Neven Subotic made a hash of clearing a Bacary Sagna centre, so Giroud nipped in to equalise.
Wenger subbed Wilshere before the hour with an ankle knock as Cazorla came on to give the hosts extra impetus. The Spaniard rattled the angle of post and bar with a sweet strike as the Gunners threat grew. Lewandowski meanwhile escaped a red card for elbowing Laurent Koscielny.
Klopp made changes of his own, introducing young Jonas Hofmann and summer signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but they made little impact compared to Cazorla. Dortmund snatched the points with a late winner, however, as Arsenal were caught on the counter.
Lewandowski turned in Kevin Grosskreutz’s cross to the back post completely unmarked. This sting in the tail proved fatal, leaving Champions League group F wide open as Napoli won in Marseille. How Wenger’s team responds will be a test of their credentials.
- Arsenal: 1 Wojciech Szczesny, 3 Bacary Sagna, 4 Per Mertesacker, 6 Laurent Koscielny, 28 Kieran Gibbs, 16 Aaron Ramsey (23 Nicklas Bendtner 87’), 8 Mikel Arteta (c), 10 Jack Wilshere (19 Santi Cazorla 58’), 11 Mesut Ozil, 7 Tomas Rosicky (44 Serge Gnabry 89’), 12 Olivier Giroud 4-3-2-1
- Goals: Olivier Giroud 41’
- Dortmund: 1 Roman Weidenfeller (c), 19 Kevin Grosskreutz, 4 Neven Subotic, 15 Mats Hummels, 29 Marcel Schmelzer, 6 Sven Bender, 18 Nuri Sahin, 16 Jakub Blaszczykowski (7 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 67’), 10 Henrikh Mkhitaryan, (7 Jonas Hofmann 66’) 11 Marco Reus (25 Sokratis Papastathopoulos 87’), 9 Robert Lewandowski 4-2-3-1
- Goals: Henrikh Mkhitaryan 16’, Robert Lewandowski 82’