By Chris Wright
Spot on: Robin Van Persie puts Arsenal ahead against Partizan
For an eerie twenty minutes or so, a despondent hush fell over the Emirates stadium last night, when Arsenal – ahead through Robin Van Persie ‘s ill-gotten first-half penalty (anyone else fear the worst when he lept to his knees in celebration?) – were suddenly pegged back by a roundly unadventurous Partizan Belgrade side, instantly rendering Champions League Group H open to the gods of mathematical analysis.
A 1-1 scoreline meant that the Gunners’ fate was no longer in their hands and that the result between Shakhtar Donetsk and Braga would be the deciding factor in their bid to advance to the last 16. A goal for Shakhtar and all would be rosy for Arsene Wenger ‘s side, a goal for Braga and…well, I’m sure you get the picture.
Thankfully, Arsenal didn’t have too long to wait for their percolating concerns to be allayed, as a flurry of late(ish) goals from impact sub Theo Walcott (an instinctive, angled ponk) and the sporadically brilliant Samir Nasri (a cute shuffle and finish from the edge of the box) eventually saw them through – though it’s hard to argue that they didn’t make ridiculously hard work of finishing second in the group.
Speaking after the game, Wenger admitted that it all got a little bit hairy