Arsenal were sent crashing back down to Earth in the NextGen Series last night after being downed 2-0 to Olympiakos. It was a harsh but necessary lesson in playing football abroad as The Young Gunners conceded two late goals courtesy of Rafail Soukias and Leandro Climaco Pinto condemned them to defeat in Piraeus.
Arsenal started the game well and without deliberately using a tired cliché it truly was a game of two halves as Arsenal exuded much of the confidence of the Marseille tie throughout the first period. It was during this time they created their best chances with Serge Gnabry coming particulary close after trickery out wide and dragging his shot fractionally wide.
In the second half as a solid and organised Olympiakos defence remained impenetrable with only Nico Yennaris getting close before the hour mark with a shot saved by Eleftherios Choutesiotis.
As the teams began to tire, Olympiakos' fitness showed, and with just 6 minutes left on the clock when Soukias reacted quickly to a Reice Charles-Cook save to slide the ball home, the Greek side had their lead.
As Arsenal pushed forward, desperately looking for an equaliser, Hector Bellerin was shown a straight red card after bringing down Nikos Ioannidis as the last man. Bellerin brought him down as there was a definite chance of going 2-0 down so the decision seemed logical but irony struck when the Brazilian centre back Leandro stepped up to take the free-kick, and duly curled it delightfully into a hopeless Charles-Cook’s net.
Arsenal remain on 3 points after defeat to Olympiakos and a 3-0 opening fixture triumph over Marseille.
However after two fixtures in Group 6, Arsenal and their rivals all sit on 3 points after Marseille came back from a goal down to defeat Athletic Bilbao in France, with an impressive brace from Mancellin Anani helping them to a 2-1 victory.
In the other NextGen campaign of the night Wolfsburg travelled to Belgium and defeated Anderlecht in Tottenham Hotspur’s group, 2-1 the final score.
Tottenham and Manchester City are in action tonight with previews to the games online later today…
image: © wonker