Football

Arsenal give up 3-goal lead to draw with Anderlecht in Champions League

How do they do it? How do Arsenal keep raising the bar when it comes to the simple art of self-destruction.

Everyone says that their own team is the most frustrating team, but if your own team isn’t Arsenal then you’re wrong. 

Arsenal led Anderlecht 3-0 after an hour at the Emirates.

They had all but sealed their place in the second phase of the Champions League on Tuesday night.

What followed was so typically Arsenal that it felt like a comedy sketch. Not that any Arsenal fans found it particularly amusing. Aleksandr Mitrovic’s last minute equaliser was proof that no matter how bad you think things can get, Arsenal can always make them worse.

It all started so well. Chancel Mbemba bundled over Danny Welbeck in the box to give Arsenal the chance to break the deadlock.

If Mikel Arteta felt any pressure from the spot, it didn’t show.

The Spanish midfielder stepped up and chipped the ball down the centre with Silvio Proto hurling himself away to his right. Four minutes later, the game seemd all but secured.

Sanchez, who had already displayed his class, displayed his tenacity too. His 29th minute free-kick, taken from just outside the penalty area, was charged down by the wall. His volley on the rebound was not. Arsenal took charge.

Just 12 minutes after half-time, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain switched on his afterburners, raced past Anthony Vanden Borre and then carefully clipped the ball past Proto and into the bottom corner. 3-0. Game over? No.

Six minutes later, Anderlecht responded. Vanden Borre, who struggled all night, slammed the ball past Wojceich Szczesny.

It was a goal only slightly tarnished by the fact that he was yards offside. Not that the officials noticed. They certainly noticed when Nacho Monteal felled Aleksandr Mitrovic. Vanden Borre converted the penalty. 

With the seconds ticking down, Andy Najar’s cross was met by Mitrovic’s head and Arsenal’s misery was complete.

They will still qualify for the next stage. Eventually. But how much further? And how much more can these fans take?

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