Bendtner's late hit puts edgy Arsenal in the pink

Arsenal 1 Dynamo Kiev 0

Arsenal started the day in the blackest of moods but ended it in the pink. Yes, Nicklas Bendtner – one man at the club who can astonishingly claim the dubious honour of probably being less popular than William Gallas – did wear those injudicious, garish salmon boots and used them, as a second-half substitute, to strike the late, if highly controversial goal that sent Arsenal into the last 16 of the Champions League.

With it the young Dane did something he has rarely done before. He positively transformed the atmosphere inside the Emirates, lifted the fortunes of his team and sent a shot of belief coursing through a traumatised club. This was one goal he did not celebrate on his own. "It's a first step for us because at the moment what the team needs is a bit of reassurance," admitted manager Arsène Wenger, who celebrated Arsenal's 150th goal in this competition.

It was, also, a tentative step ahead of Sunday's Premier League game away to Chelsea – Arsenal hope to have Emmanuel Adebayor, Bacary Sagna and Samir Nasri back – where defeat would finally kill of any lingering title hopes. In truth Arsenal were fortunate to win against the Ukrainian champions, who struck the post and were denied by a superb save from Manuel Almunia – a moment before the goal that Wenger described as a "turning point" – as they at first frustrated and then threatened.

Even so, the provenance of the goal itself was extremely dubious. Arsenal believed they were awarded a free-kick, although Dynamo clearly thought it was a drop ball and that Gallas was going to return possession to them. Instead Cesc Fabregas, the new captain, took the kick/drop ball and, while it was rolling, flighted a wonderful 60-yard pass into the path of Bendtner. Even then Dynamo protested, claiming that the striker handled – which he did not – before he crisply struck home with his left foot, but the visitors sense of injustice exploded and Olexandr Aliyev was eventually sent off. "The referee said 'leave the ball to me' – so I took it and played. We have to accept that," Fabregas later said which didn't really clear up the confusion. Not that Arsenal will care.

For Bendtner it was a redeeming moment and the first goal Arsenal had scored in almost three games – which for their free-flowing football represents a veritable drought. He had been dumped to the bench – with Carlos Vela elevated – after a series of poor, often anonymous, contributions. "I'm very happy for him because I felt he was a bit disturbed recently with a lack of confidence," Wenger said of Bendtner, which will have raised a few smiles at Arsenal given the arrogance the player is usually accused of showing too much of and the lack of popularity he merits from supporters.

The victory also allowed Wenger to do one more thing. He was able to praise Gallas, who had been stripped of the captaincy, dropped and then recalled for this encounter more because Arsenal – with nine players injured – needed him than through any great desire to immediately rehabilitate after his intemperate outburst last week aimed at his team-mates. "His focus was great and you could see that he wanted to do well," Wenger said of Gallas. "The crowd responded very well which means that somewhere they acknowledge he was a committed captain."

For a while Gallas seemed determined to make himself the story. He had a goal ruled out for offside, inadvertently blocked another effort – from Robin van Persie no less, one of the players he had clashed with – and horrifically gifted Dynamo a golden chance from which they struck the woodwork. Still Almunia planted a kiss on Gallas's shaven head when Bendtner scored.

Wenger will wonder what all this means. A revival? Or another false dawn? Crisis management? Or inspired stewardship? Arsenal are certainly not firing. Not yet, anyway. The cheers at the end were simply fuelled by relief, not joy, and supporters will cling more to the promise of Aaron Ramsey – who started brightly and tested Stanislav Bogush with a flicked shot – and Jack Wilshere – who became, at 16 years and nine months, the youngest player to appear for Arsenal in this competition – than anything else. Gallas and Mikaël Silvestre – who put the ball over – went close as they tried to turn in dangerous free-kicks from Van Persie before a shot from the Dutch striker struck Bogush on the chest and ran away. Gallas then erred. After dispossessing Ismael Bangoura, he turned back into the striker's path, had the ball whisked away and watched as an angled shot from the Guinean beat the stranded Almunia only to clip the outside of the goalkeeper's near post.

Dynamo threatened further. Shots over – from Tiberiu Ghioane – and skidding wide – from Bangoura – and then into Almunia's midriff (which he spilled) – from Aliyev were a reminder that it was now a contest. In truth, Arsenal were increasingly ragged. Ideas were in short supply, confidence was falling with Aliyev provoking an angry response for rolling around in agony, feigning injury and then springing to his heels as Dynamo won the ball back. Finally Almunia had to sprint from his goal to superbly deny Artem Milevskiy, who Wenger had identified as Dynamo's most dangerous player.

How crucial it was to prove as, eventually and with time running out, Arsenal scored that vital goal. Whether it was legitimate or not did not really matter to them in the final reckoning – although it did, of course, for Dynamo. Arsenal would have effectively qualified with a goalless draw – after Gallas's strike in Kiev earlier this season, of course – but it was a moment that meant more than earning two extra points.

Arsenal (4-4-2): Almunia; Djourou, Gallas, Silvestre, Clichy; Ramsey (Bendtner, 68), Fabregas, Song, Denilson; Van Persie, Vela (Wilshere, 77). Substitutes not used: Fabianski (gk), Gibbs, Hoyte, Merida, Simpson.

Dynamo Kiev (4-4-2): Bogush; Betao, Asatiani, Diakhate, El Kaddouri; Eremenko, Ghioane, Vukojevic, Aliyev; Bangoura, Milevsky. Substitutes not used: Shovkovskiy (gk), Dopilka, Sabljic, Correa, Shatskikh, Cernat, Yarmolenko.

Referee: A Hamer (Luxembourg).

Group G

Results: Dynamo Kiev 1 Arsenal 1; Porto 3 Fenerbahce 1; Arsenal 4 Porto 0; Fenerbahce 0 Dynamo Kiev 0; Fenerbahce 2 Arsenal 5; Porto 0 Dynamo Kiev 1; Arsenal 0 Fenerbahce 0; Dynamo Kiev 1 Porto 2; Arsenal 1 Dynamo Kiev 0; Fenerbahce 1 Porto 2.

Arsenal's remaining group stage fixture: 10 Dec: Porto (a).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition