A moment of class from Aaron Ramsey, out of context in a poor match, moved Arsenal into a strong position in Group F of the Champions League last night. The young Welshman slotted home in the 93rd minute to earn an unlikely victory on the Cote D'Azur.
It was the first goal Marseilles had conceded at home in nine hours of Champions League football, a surprising fact given their own performance. Both teams looked what they are, struggling domestically for form and confidence. Robin van Persie had a header cleared off the line in the first half, and drew a good save from Steve Mandanda in the last minute of normal time, but otherwise Arsenal threatened little.
Nevertheless, with Borussia Dortmund losing in Greece they are now in control of the group, a point clear of Marseilles and four ahead of Olympiakos who do not travel well but have two away games or come.
The one bit of bad news for Arsène Wenger was yet another injury, this time to Carl Jenkinson, who was forced out of the match. His first-choice right-back, Bacary Sagna, is already out for some time.
The game appeared to be meandering to a dull close when Arsenal launched a late assault, helped by Marseilles appearing to have settled for a point. Gervinho slipped in Van Persie for a shot which Mandanda did well to keep out at the near post. More indicative of the match was the short corner routine which followed: Tomas Rosicky hit the ball out of play.
It looked as that would be the game's final, fitting, note, then Djourou, deep and wide on the right, sent over a cross which eluded a bundle of players in the middle save a touch off Gervinho. The ball ran to Ramsey, coming in late, completely unnoticed by the defence. He steadied himself and tucked the ball away superbly.
The result means Arsenal remain unbeaten in nine away European matches on French soil – though they did lose two European finals there. At present they show no sign of reaching another European final, but at this stage results are what matters in particular qualifying top of the group, and they have made progress on that front.Reuse content