Oct 22, 2014 at 7.45pm UK at ​Constant Vanden Stock
Anderlecht
1-2
Arsenal
Najar (71')
Deschacht (80')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Gibbs (89'), Podolski (91')
Monreal (8'), Welbeck (66')

Live Commentary: Anderlecht 1-2 Arsenal - as it happened

Anderlecht's midfielder from Honduras Andy Najar heads the ball to score against Arsenal during a UEFA Champions League group stage football match Anderlecht vs Arsenal at the Constant Vanden Stock stadium in Anderlecht on October 22, 2014
© Getty Images
Relive Sports Mole's live text coverage of Arsenal's dramatic 2-1 victory over Anderlecht in the Champions League this evening.

Arsenal produced a late comeback to salvage three points against Anderlecht in a dramatic 2-1 victory in Brussels this evening.

Following a goalless first half in the Champions League Group D contest, both sides upped the tempo with Andy Najar firing the hosts ahead on 71 minutes.

A huge upset looked to be on the cards heading into the final minute of time, before Kieran Gibbs and substitute Lukas Podolski scored within two minutes of each other to rescue a valuable win for the Gunners.

You can see how the entertaining 90 minutes of action unfolded with Sports Mole's minute-by-minute coverage below.


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6.45pmHello and welcome to Sports Mole's live text coverage of the Champions League group-stage meeting between Anderlecht and Arsenal at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium. Tonight's game offers the visiting side a real opportunity to get their season back on track following a rather disappointing start domestically.

6.47pmArsenal currently have three points in Group D, putting them behind Dortmund at this early stage. Having departed at the Round of 16 stage for the past four seasons, though, then Arsene Wenger's men must surely be targeting top spot this time around.

6.49pmAnderlecht may be strong domestically, coming into this game on the back of just one loss in their 15 games so far this season, but they tend to struggle to make any real waves in European competition. In fact, that one defeat that they have suffered this campaign came in the Champions League, in the 3-0 reverse against Dortmund last time out. In theory Arsenal should be looking to match the Bundesliga outfit's performance in the Belgian capital this evening.

6.52pmThe team news will be with us shortly, although it is likely that Arsenal will field third-choice stopper Emiliano Martinez at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium tonight, due to another stroke of misfortune. Wojciech Szcesny was shown a needless red card against Galatasaray a few weeks back, ensuring that he misses out tonight, while David Ospina is absent through injury.

6.55pmI'm sure Arsenal supporters don't need reminding that the last time Martinez featured in a Gunners shirt was back in the infamous 7-5 League Cup victory over Reading a couple of years back. He has gained more experience since then, most notably at Sheffield Wednesday last season, but this will be a real test for him.

6.57pmThe team news has filtered through, so let's take a look at how these two sides line up this evening...

6.59pmTEAM NEWS!

ANDERLECHT STARTING XI: Proto, Deschacht, Mbemba, Vanden Borre, Praet, Defour, Tielemans, Najar, Cyriac, Acheampong, Conte

ARSENAL STARTING XI: Martinez, Chambers, Mertesacker, Monreal, Gibbs, Flamini, Sanchez, Wilshere, Ramsey, Cazorla, Welbeck


7.02pmSo as expected Martinez does start between the sticks, with Calum Chambers, Per Mertesacker, Nacho Monreal and Kieran Gibbs making up the back four. Jack Wilshere limped off with an injury in that 2-2 draw against Hull, but he is fit to start in Brussels, and so to is Aaron Ramsey. The Welshman was only fit enough for a place on the bench last weekend, although he has been risked from the off tonight.

7.05pmDanny Welbeck, fresh from his hat-trick against Galatasaray in the club's last outing in this competition, starts up top, while Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla provide support in attack. It looks like a strong attacking lineup from Wenger, although goals are not a guarantee; Arsenal having scored just once in their last four away games in Europe.

7.07pmThe big news for Anderlecht is that star man Aleksandar Mitrovic has been left out of the starting lineup. The Serbian has continued his fine form this season by bagging 10 goals in 15 appearances, although the Belgian Pro league leaders will have to make do without him from the off.

7.09pmAnthony Vanden Borre does start for the hosts, however, having played just 60 minutes of football since picking up an injury at the World Cup. The fact that the one-hour appearance came in an Under-21 game perhaps makes his inclusion that little more surprising, but there is no doubting his importance to this side.

7.11pmCan Wenger mark his 65th birthday with a win?



7.13pmBENCH WATCH!

ANDERLECHT SUBSTITUTES: Roef, Suarez, Colin, Kljestan, Dendoncker, Kabasele, Mitrovic

ARSENAL SUBSTITUTES: Huddart, Bellerin, Rosicky, Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Podolski, Campbell


7.15pmAs already mentioned, Mitrovic has to settle for a spot among the substitutes, while Fabric N'Sakala is still not fit enough to return following the knee ligament injury he sustained. As for the visitors, Hector Bellerin - who started his first league game for Arsenal on the weekend - is among the backups, while Wenger has plenty of attacking options to call on should he need to. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be raring to go, as will the reportedly unhappy Lukas Podolski and Joel Campbell.

7.17pmWenger will be keen to send a message out tonight following a poor start domestically. Arsenal have made their second worst ever start to a Premier League campaign, sitting seventh in the table after eight games. Yet somehow the Frenchman always manages to lead the Gunners into the Champions League, with this the club's 17th successive appearance at this level.

7.20pmWhat will frustrate supporters more than anything, though, is the fact that year after year Arsenal seemingly fall off the pace domestically, while they see their European aspirations come to an end at the Round of 16 stage. Hardly surprising when the likes of Bayern Munich and Barcelona have awaited in the next round, but this is easy, in theory, to avoid. If Arsenal win their group then they will give themselves a good chance of facing one of the lesser sides, if you will, which can help springboard a push into the latter stages of the competition.

7.23pmThe defeat to an out-of-sorts Dortmund side in their opener was by no means ideal, but at least the Gunners were given plenty of time to recover. The pressure was on against Galatasaray last time out, but they passed the test with flying colours in no small part to Danny Welbeck, who bagged a treble. Qualifying is second nature to Arsenal, but finishing top of the group has to be the target. Anything less than three points in Brussels tonight will seriously dent those hopes.

7.25pmSo what about tonight's opponents? Well Anderlecht have reached the group stage of the Champions League in the last three seasons, although that is about as good as it gets in recent times for the Purple and Whites. They have finished bottom in all seven European campaigns since they reached the quarters in 2001, collecting just one point last season.

7.27pmBesnik Hasi's charges picked up a respectable point against Galatasaray in their opener, which is never an easy place to go, but they were brought back down to earth with a bang against Dortmund. I covered that game three weeks ago, and while the Bundesliga outfit's movement was terrific in the final third, Anderlecht offered next to nothing. A repeat of that performance tonight and we will be looking at an extremely one-sided scoreline.

7.29pmYou wouldn't bet against it...


7.32pmPREVIOUS MEETINGS: This is actually the first time that these two sides have ever met in a competitive fixture, although Anderlecht have plenty of previous against English opposition. The Purple and Whites have gone seven games, a spell spanning across 14 years, since their last win against a Premier League side. That coming in 2000 against Manchester United. The Belgians did manage to hold Tottenham to a draw in 2007, however, so the warning signs are there.

7.35pmPREDICTION! With that in mind I can only really see this game going one way tonight. Anderlecht will no doubt put up a strong fight from the off, but Arsenal have more than enough quality to break down their opponents. That said, the Gunners' third-choice goalkeeper has a mistake or two in him, so I'll go with 1-3.

7.38pmElsewhere in Group D this evening Dortmund will look to maintain their hold on top spot when they take on Galatasaray. You feel that Arsenal will have to pick up maximum points between now and their final group game if they are to finish at the summit, which includes seeing off BVB at the Emirates Stadium. A professional performance is needed this evening more than anything, although a goal-difference boosting result wouldn't go amiss, either.

7.40pmWith a little over five minutes to go before kickoff, there's a quick chance to see what Wenger has had to say ahead of this game.

"It is very important to win today. We know that we play in the Champions League, away from home, and it will be a battle – we need to produce quality in our game.It is important for my team to perform well.

I put all my energy into my team. We need to reduce the gap between performances and points and I still feel young enough, even more than before. I still have the same envy and motivation to perform and to put my energy into my club and into my team."


7.42pm

7.44pmWell the teams are now out onto the field with the Champions League anthem belting out. Anderlecht supporters know how to make an atmosphere, and there's plenty of Arsenal fans inside the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium to add to the occasion.

0 minKICKOFF! Anderlecht get us underway in Brussels in front of a 20,000 capacity sell-out. There's around 1,500 travelling supporters here incidentally, who will each be keen to see their side return to winning ways.

2 minArsenal just taking control of the ball in the opening stages, slowly pushing forward from the back. Anderlecht were a goal behind within three minutes against Dortmund, something which they will be hoping to avoid tonight.

3 minCHANCE! Sanchez manages to work some space down the right-hand side following some tricky footwork, and he does even better to pick out Cazorla inside the box, but the Spaniard completely misshits his effort which flies high and wide.

5 minCyriac does very well to win his side a corner as he attacks down the left, but the cross into the box is cut out. The resulting corner is very disappointing from Defour. A promising start from the hosts who are by no means sitting back.

7 minCyriac is looking a threat in these early stages around the box, seeing his shot blocked by Flamini on the edge of the box. He was brought in to replace Mitrovic, which is a big risk from Besnik Hasi, and he will be looking to repay his manager's faith.

8 minYELLOW CARD! Monreal is the first player to enter the referee's book with just eight minutes on the clock. He struggled to deal with Cyriac, just halting the Ivorian's run.

10 minRather surprisingly, it is the home side who are controlling the tempo of play at the moment. Arsenal beginning to find gaps on the edge of the opposition area, though, and one of those pockets is taken up by Welbeck who is bundled over. Free kick in a promising area here...

11 minCazorla disappointingly thumps the ball right into the wall. He will have to wait for his first ever Champions League goal.

13 minSHOT! Some sloppy play for Flamini allows Chancel Mbemba to fire from range, but the sting is taken out of his effort which Martinez easily collects.

15 minSanchez drifts out to the left-hand side, and he is brought down by former Portsmouth man Vanden Borre, allowing Arsenal to swing another cross into the box. The set piece is easily dealt with, though, with Anderlecht clearing their lines.

17 minJust a half-chance for Welbeck inside the six-yard box, although he was unable to keep down his headed effort following a cross into the box. That was by no means an easy opportunity, and he will no doubt be given better service than that as the night draws on.

19 minA little under 20 minutes in and not only have Anderlecht held Arsenal out, but they have also looked fairly comfortable. It may all be part of the Gunners' plan to just sit back for the opening third of the match before pushing on, but they will surely up the ante shortly.

21 minRamsey just dropping deep to collect the ball. He is a vital part of this Arsenal side, but so far he has been unable to get back up to speed in his first game back following injury. Still no major chances of note for either side to shout about.

23 minA ball is played in behind the Arsenal backline in the direction of Vanden Borre who is chasing it down, but Cazorla clears the danger away. Martinez was actually rushing out to collect it, but Cazorla was taking no chances.

25 minAlexis uses his brilliant footwork to almost get away from a chasing defender once more, only for Mbemba to cleanly win the ball. Decent interception in a dangerous area from the Anderlecht man. Arsenal just showing a few more positive signs now.

27 minTielemans unleashes a strike from around 35 yards out, and the effort takes a deflection which sees the ball go out for a corner kick. The danger was not initially dealt with, although Dennis Praet's half-volley on the edge of the box ended well wide.

28 minAnother corner for the hosts which Arsenal, or more specifically Mertesacker, stands up to. Just need to ride the wave of the storm at the moment.

30 minAll rather frustrating for the North London outfit at the moment, it must be said. Anderlecht are comfortably thwarting any danger in the final third, and creating some good openings of their own. That said, Sanchez looks a real threat with his dynamic movement.

33 minSHOT! Acheampong is given plenty of space to run into down the left, but he is unable to capitalise on the opening as the half-chance goes begging. Moments later a long ball over the top was brilliantly controlled by Sanchez inside the area, but he could not test Silvio Proto with his effort.

36 minThis is not quite as routine as Arsenal were expecting so far, is it? They have had more of the ball in the last 10 minutes or so, but still don't look too dangerous in attack. The Gunners manage to win a corner, but Mertesacker's header fails to find the target. It's not been a thriller in Brussels, but we do have a delicately-poised contest.

38 minVanden Borre is winning every ball he goes for at the moment, this time dispossessing both Cazorla and Welbeck on the edge of the box. The former Porstmouth man is now high up the field as Anderlecht look to attack...

40 minOne thing the hosts haven't done so far this evening is test the untried Martinez. He is forced to make a decision for the first time with five minutes to go until half time, racing out to thwart a cross into the box.

41 minYet another corner kick won by the hosts, and once more it comes to nothing. This one is worked to Tielemans, who sees his shot-no-nothing blocked from range.

43 minNeither keeper has had a shot to save thus far, although that will surely please Anderlecht more than Arsenal. I'm expecting the Gunners to come out for the second half far more fired up.

45 minSanchez, Cazorla and Welbeck link up well, although the latter fails to get a shot away inside the box. Arsenal have just showed glimmers in this first half of what they are capable of in attack, but not on near enough occasions. They are not playing with confidence, which is perhaps understandable.

45+1 minHALF TIME: ANDERLECHT 0-0 ARSENAL

8.35pmReferee Carlos Velasco brings the first half to a close, with the sides level at the break. It has been a poor first 45 minutes in truth, with no goalmouth action whatsoever - we can surely expect that to change after the restart.

8.38pmUPDATE: Elsewhere in Group D this evening, Dortmund lead Galatasaray 3-0 at the break. They may be struggling domestically - sound familiar? - but they are truly dominant in Europe this season. Arsenal have a lot to do if they are to finish top.

8.41pmIn a poor first half for Arsenal there has been just one shining light in Alexis Sanchez. The Chile international has set up his side's only two half-chances of the game, and also managed to get away a shot of his own. Wenger's charges really need to up their game following the restart.

8.43pmThe only way is up (I hope...)


8.45pmBENCH WATCH!

ANDERLECHT SUBSTITUTES: Roef, Suarez, Colin, Kljestan, Dendoncker, Kabasele, Mitrovic

ARSENAL SUBSTITUTES: Huddart, Bellerin, Rosicky, Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Podolski, Campbell


8.47pmI mentioned pre-match that Arsenal have plenty of attacking options to turn to on the bench, and Wenger may opt to do that from the off with the second half just a few moments away. Anderlecht can also call on a more than capable goalscorer, with Aleksandar Mitrovic among their backups.

45 minSECOND HALF UNDERWAY! A pivotal 45 minutes ahead for Arsenal then, who could really do with a goal early on to settle any nerves.

46 minWelbeck does well to weave away from a couple of challenges on the byline, and after getting a cross away the ball bounces off a couple of opposition players and into the hands of a grateful Proto.

48 minSHOT! Positive start from both sides, with this arguably Anderlecht's best opening yet. Conte was picked out inside the box, only for his goalbound effort to be deflected away. Some good play from the hosts, but ultimately nothing to show for it.

51 minCHANCE! Best chance yet for Arsenal. Cazorla's whipped free kick into the box looked to be going all the way through, but Alexis was there to get the slightest of flick-ons on the ball from a central position, yet it wasn't enough to beat Proto. Following the opportunity Arsenal have spent the last minute or so just knocking the ball around. The goalkeeper did well to push that away in fairness, although Alexis perhaps could have done better to guide it into the corner. We have the game's first save, at least!

54 minCHANCE! Arsenal most certainly upping the tempo now. Alexis picks out Ramsey around eight yards from goal, but the Welshman doesn't connect with his effort which flies wide of the target. He would have buried that chance 12 months ago! Can Anderlecht keep the Gunners out? They are certainly not sitting back, pushing forward to create openings of their own.

57 minSAVE! Martinez is forced into making his first save of the night, which will act as a real confidence booster. Cyriac was given too much space on the edge of the box, firing away an effort on goal which the Gunners stopper did well to get behind and collect. All rather easy in the end, but a little warning sign for the visitors perhaps.

59 minWell there's been far more action in front of goal in the opening 15 minutes of this half, but much like in the opening 45 minutes, Arsenal hardly look convincing. Wenger has held out before making a change, but it looks as though the first substitution is just a couple of minutes away.

61 minOxlade-Chamberlain is probably the ideal man to bring on right now, with his ability to up the temp and create chances in the attacking third. All a little dry from Arsenal who, bar a little spell 10 minutes ago, have done next to nothing tonight.

63 minSHOT! The space just opened up for Praet around 25 yards out, but in the end his shot was high and wide. Once more, Anderlecht's attacking players have been given too much space in dangerous areas.

65 minCHANCE! Alexis threads the ball through to Cazorla who was in on goal, but his side-foot strike was kept out by Proto down low. The Spaniard was at a tight angle in fairness to him, but that was as good a chance as Arsenal have created so far.

66 minYELLOW CARD! Mbemba has done very well tonight, making a few key interceptions to deny Arsenal. Meanwhile, the frustration gets the better of Danny Welbeck who is shown a yellow card for a needless challenge.

69 minAlexis is still the man who is looking to make things happen for Arsenal. On this occasion his smart ball into the path of Ramsey has a little too much on it, meaning that the Welshman is unable to keep it in play despite his efforts. The Premier League outfit still seeking their first goal away from home in the Champions League this season with 20 minutes left to go.

70 minI really don't understand why Wenger has waited this long to make a change, because the Gunners look devoid of any ideas at the moment.

71 minGOAL! ANDERLECHT 1-0 ARSENAL (NAJAR)

72 minAndy Najar breaks the deadlock to set up a real shock in Brussels! Praet did brilliantly on the right to work in a cross, which was held up perfectly for his teammate to head home. Najar still had a lot to do mind, but he headed the ball down beyond Martinez with aplomb.

73 minPraet's ball set it up, but Monreal simply had to cut it out in the wide position. Terrible defending all around from Arsenal, who are heading for yet another defeat.

75 minDOUBLE ARSENAL SUBSTITUTION: About 15 minutes later than needed, Wenger has opted to make a double substitution. Campbell and Oxlade-Chamberlain are on in place of Flamini and Welbeck. Fifteen minutes for Arsenal to rescue something.

76 min

78 minAnderlecht having more joy down the right now, looking to build on that opening goal. Incidentally, the Belgian outfit have won just twice in their last 33 Champions League games. This will be a huge moment in their recent history if they can just hold on.

80 minOFF THE POST! Sunday league defending from Arsenal. Najar is having so much joy down the right, and once more Monreal fails to close him down. The ball eventually finds its way to Vanden Borre who doesn't connect with his strike the way he would have liked, with a dinked effort coming back off the bar. A follow up effort could only find the side netting. That really should have been lights for the Gunners.

82 minCLOSE! Deschacht concedes a free kick on the edge of the box - receiving a booking for his troubles - which allows Alexis to try his luck from around 20 yards out. He almost hits the ball perfectly, but it didn't quite have enough on it, rustling the side-netting. Alexis has been the visiting side's best player be a long, long way.

83 minSUBSTITUTIONS: Wenger makes his final change, bringing on Lukas Podolski for Jack Wilshere. Matias Suarez is introduced for Cyriac, meanwhile.

85 minCHANCE! Andlercht have blown another brilliant opportunity to double their advantage, with Arsenal falling apart at the back once more. A ball over the top is just not dealt with, and if not for a bad first touch from Suarez then he was clean in on goal. The message clearly wasn't taken, as the hosts pushed forward once more, Martinez being forced into making a big save to deny Defour's drive. It's all one-way traffic right now, yet not the way you would expect.

87 minAnderlecht have starting showboating! This is quite incredible, and their supporters are loving every minute. Arsenal have offered nothing in response. Three minutes to go...

88 minANDERLECHT SUB: Praet leaves the field with Dendoncker coming on.

89 minGOAL! ANDERLECHT 1-1 ARSENAL (GIBBS)

90 minCruel, cruel blow for Anderlecht as Arsenal rescue a point at the death. Chambers swung in a peach of a ball from the left, with Gibbs meeting it on the volley, delicately picking his spot back across goal.

90+1 minGOAL!! ANDERLECHT 1-2 ARSENAL (PODOLSKI)

90+2 minUnbelievable! Two minutes ago Arsenal were a goal behind and had absolutely no response whatsoever - they are now ahead thanks to Podolski's strike in the first minute of added on time. Sanchez was again at the heart of it, taking down a lofted ball into the back-post area before looking to pick out Podolski. Anderlecht failed to deal with the danger, allowing the Germany international to fire home from a few yards out.

90+3 minFootball can be a cruel game at times, as Anderlecht have discovered tonight. With one minute remaining they are behind for the first time.

90+4 minFULL TIME: ANDERLECHT 1-2 ARSENAL

9.37pmThe referee blows his whistle for full time. Arsenal have produced one of the greatest of great escapes in Brussels. They were down and out with one minute of normal time remaining, only for Gibbs and super sub Podolski to not just salvage a point but steal all three.

9.39pmWell that's all from me for this evening, but stick around on Sports Mole as we bring you a full match report, analysis, reaction and player ratings from the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium.

Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger waits for the begining of the UEFA Champions League play-off football match Besiktas vs Arsenal at Ataturk Olympic Stadium on August 19, 2014
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