Champions League: Arsenal hopes in balance after surrendering two-goal lead to Schalke
By Chris Harvey. Last Updated: 07/11/12 1:04am
Arsenal's hopes of making the Champions League knockout stages remain in the balance after they surrendered a 2-0 lead to Schalke to draw 2-2.
The Gunners looked to be on course for victory in Germany as first-half goals from Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud put them in control.
But a Klaas-Jan Huntelaar strike just before half-time gave Schalke hope and they piled on the pressure after the break and were rewarded for their endeavours on 67 minutes by Jefferson Farfan's equaliser.
It had all looked bright for Arsenal midway through the first period. They took the lead when a mistake by Roman Neustadter allowed Giroud through on goal and although skipper Benedikt Howedes got back to take the ball off the Frenchman's foot, Walcott was on hand to pounce on the loose ball.
Giroud doubled the lead on 26 minutes after his persistence saw him feed Lukas Podolski and the French international took advantage of slack marking by the Germans to power a header home.
"If they had gone in at half-time then that would have been it - but they did concede a stupid goal just before half-time"
Arsene Wenger's half-time team talk was made more difficult in stoppage time when Huntelaar fired home with his left foot after a slip by Santi Cazorla allowed Lewis Holtby to feed the Dutchman to hammer beyond Vito Mannone.
Giroud missed a great chance to extend the visitors' lead within three minutes of the restart but he made a hash of his volley after more great work down the left by Podolski.
He could have been made to pay for his miss but Huntelaar failed to beat Mannone when one on one with the Arsenal keeper. The Italian also did well to parry a deflected effort from Jermaine Jones as Schalke pushed for the equaliser.
The Germans had a huge shout for a penalty on 54 minutes when a goalbound shot from Howedes struck Per Mertesacker on the arm but referee Nicola Rizzoli waved away their appeals.
However, the hosts were on level terms when Thomas Vermaelen could only deflect Farfan's far post effort into his own net.
The final quarter of the game was very much backs to the wall for the visitors but they held out to claim a welcome point with the Gunners' trip to Greece to face Olympiakos - winners over Montpellier - likely to prove pivotal.
They even had chance to snatch victory at the death but Walcott was denied by the legs of keeper Lars Unnerstall.
|FC Schalke 04||Team Statistics||Arsenal|
|1||1st Half Goals||2|
|8||Shots on Target||6|
|9||Shots off Target||2|
|57.6||1st Half Poss.||42.4|
|57.2||2nd Half Poss.||42.8|
UEFA Champions League
Tue 6th Nov - Group A
PSG4 - 0Din Zagreb
Dynamo Kiev0 - 0FC Porto
Tue 6th Nov - Group C
Anderlecht1 - 0Zenit
AC Milan1 - 1Malaga
Tue 6th Nov - Group D
R Madrid2 - 2B Dortmund
Man City2 - 2Ajax
Tue 6th Nov - Group B
Olympiakos3 - 1Montpellier
Schalke2 - 2Arsenal
UEFA Champions League Group A
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|3||Zenit St. Petersburg||5||7|
UEFA Champions League Group D
UEFA Champions League Group E
UEFA Champions League Group F
|1||Paris St Germain||5||13|
UEFA Champions League Group G
UEFA Champions League Group H
Schalke v Arsenal
Arsene Wenger is hoping that Arsenal can book their place in the last 16 of the Champions League with a game to spare.
Lewis Holtby has saluted Schalke's "astonishing" performance after they retrieved a two-goal deficit against Arsenal.
Arsenal's Theo Walcott has insisted he just wants to play and thinks he has done enough to earn a place in the team.