Matheus double puts pressure on Arsenal

Braga 2 Arsenal 0

Arsenal suffered a shock 2-0 Champions League defeat to Braga at Estadio Municipal tonight.

The Gunners, beaten by rivals Tottenham on Saturday, had been top of Group H and thrashed the Portuguese side 6-0 in their opening fixture.

However, a much-changed side never hit top gear and were denied a cast-iron penalty by Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai before Braga scored two late breakaway goals from Brazil striker Matheus, leaving Arsene Wenger's men not yet assured of their place in the last 16.

Wenger had made seven changes from the team which threw away a 2-0 lead at home to Spurs, including a return for Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner, who had previously hit out at a lack of opportunities.

The Estadio Municipal was carved out of the Monte Castro quarry ahead of Euro 2004, making for a stunning setting.

However, the stadium was well below its 30,000 capacity and hardly produced a hostile atmosphere for the Gunners, who won in Belgrade earlier this season but were beaten in their last away European tie at Shakhtar Donetsk.

Braga took inspiration from Arsenal to change their kit to red and white in 1921, but it was the men in yellow who started brightly as Theo Walcott looked dangerous down the right.

The home side had a free-kick when Eboue blocked Matheus, with centre-back Moises heading over when the ball was swung into the area.

After 18 minutes, Walcott flicked the ball on to Bendtner, who played Cesc Fabregas into the right side of the area, but the Arsenal captain was off balance and fired his angled shot over.

The visitors continued to enjoy plenty of possession, but were not creative enough in the final third.

As the half-hour mark approached, Walcott again scampered away down the right before cutting the ball back across the six-yard box, but Bendtner was unable to make up the ground.

Emmanuel Eboue was tripped by Leandro Salino to concede a free-kick 20 yards out, just right of centre. Fabregas beat the wall with a placed effort, but goalkeeper Felipe was alert to tip it over the bar.

On 34 minutes, the Fabregas delayed his pass on the counter-attack to release Walcott into the Braga box, but Felipe was out quickly to make the block.

At the other end Lima flashed a 20-yard drive wide before Bendtner went down 25 yards out, only for Fabregas to drill the free-kick wide.

Braga gave away possession with some stray passes at the start of the second half, but Arsenal were unable to capitalise from promising positions around the penalty area.

Salino tugged back Wilshere to concede a free-kick in a central position, some 28 yards out, but Walcott whipped a curling effort just over the crossbar.

As the hour mark approached, Fabregas turned on the edge of the penalty area to make space for a shot, which drifted wide.

At the other end, Matheus dragged his low strike across goal after cutting in from the left.

Luis Aguiar then profited from Sebastien Squillaci's half-clearance as the ball dropped to him on the edge of the box, but the Uruguayan fired wide.

Fabregas' run into the Braga box was picked out by Wilshere, but the Arsenal captain just could not bring the ball down.

On 69 minutes, Wenger made a change when Nasri replaced Fabregas, who had been troubled by a hamstring complaint and went straight to the changing room.

Tomas Rosicky's cross was put behind as Bendtner looked set for a tap-in from two yards, and on 72 minutes the Dane was replaced by Marouane Chamakh.

Mexico winger Carlos Vela was sent on for Walcott and immediately found himself booked for diving by the referee when it seemed a clear trip by Alberto Rodriguez in the area.

And Braga rubbed salt into Arsenal's wounds with seven minutes remaining as they snatched a goal on the break.

While Emmanuel Eboue was off the pitch needing treatment on an ankle injury, Matheus scampered clear to beat Lukasz Fabianski.

Arsenal were forced to play on with 10 men, but despite throwing everything forward they could not find a way back and were again hit on the break in stoppage time.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks