Ramsey's late strike makes the difference for Gunners

Marseille 0 Arsenal 1

Substitute Aaron Ramsey scored a dramatic stoppage-time winner to send Arsenal top of Group F at the expense of Champions League opponents Marseille.

Both sides had penalty shouts for handball turned down in a busy first half but the game had slowed to a crawl by the time Ramsey coolly slotted past Steve Mandanda with seconds remaining.

Ramsey had started on the bench due to concerns over a hamstring problem but was in the right place to continue his side's unbeaten run in Europe.

They now lead OM seven points to six and, in contrast to their faltering league form, are in control in Europe.

Things started nervily, with just four minutes gone when Alex Song mis-controlled the ball under pressure from Loic Remy, who briefly looked as though he would have a clear run on goal.

A foul from Song stopped him in his tracks and the subsequent yellow card was a price worth paying.

Marseille still had a dangerous free-kick to show for the error, but Mathieu Valbuena handed Wojciech Szczesny a simple save.

Arsenal put together a nice move of their own in the 10th minute, Song, Mikel Arteta and Theo Walcott combining to offer Robin van Persie a first sight of goal, though his header wide was rendered irrelevant by an offside flag.

Benoit Cheyrou caught Arsenal off guard at a throw-in when he chipped toward goal, but his attempt continued over the crossbar.

Marseille were in the ascendance and had a strong penalty appeal for handball turned down when a cross struck Carl Jenkinson's arm.

The referee rejected the claim and promptly booked Andre Ayew for his reaction.

With 20 minutes gone Arsenal started to hit back and won a corner after a threatening run by Arteta was cut short by Nicolas N'Koulou's challenge.

Arteta's delivery from the left looked to have been handled too, this time by Souleymane Diawara, but once again there was no penalty decision. Instead, the ball found Van Persie and the Dutchman's looping header would have gone in were it not for Diawara, who was back in position to clear the danger legally.

The Gunners had visibly raised their game but a quick counter-attack nearly gave the hosts a 31st-minute lead.

Remy skipped past Per Mertesacker on the byline and shaped to cut in on goal, only for the covering Jenkinson to get a deflection on a shot that squirmed wide of the far post.

OM had other chances to break the deadlock before half-time, Laurent Koscielny making a last-ditch tackle on Remy and Lucho Gonzalez diverting Valbuena's cross just off target from close range.

Andre Santos, booked earlier for a body check, was fortunate to avoid a second yellow card just before the break when he needlessly pawed at the ball.

Arsenal looked to feed the ball wide to Andrey Arshavin as the second half got under way, but he was having little luck getting past Marseille right-back Cesar Azpilicueta.

It took a clever exchange of passes with Santos for the Russian to finally get away down the left but there was little support and the best he could manage was a tame centre.

Arsenal's back line made a meal of clearing Remy's 57th-minute cross, Jenkinson, Mertesacker and Song all trying - and failing - to get the ball away.

Gonzalez and Ayew were both hustling but neither had a clear shot on goal before Jenkinson finally launched upfield.

It was his last act before being replaced by Johan Djourou in some discomfort.

With 63 minutes gone, the quiet Walcott caught N'Koulou in possession inside the penalty area but could not beat Mandanda at his near post.

The England winger, short of inspiration and service, made way for Gervinho soon after.

Marseille boss Didier Deschamps also looked to his bench, replacing Remy with the fit-again Andre-Pierre Gignac with 20 minutes to go, but neither side looked overly keen to take a risk.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger shuffled his deck again in the closing stages, moving the ineffective Tomas Rosicky to the left and sending on Ramsey to occupy the space behind Van Persie.

Some sloppy defending briefly alerted Gignac to a gap in the Arsenal line but he was outmuscled by the retreating Koscielny.

With moments remaining Djourou whipped a cross in from deep on the right touchline, with Gervinho failing to control it in the centre.

Instead, the ball found Ramsey arriving at the far post and his finish was enough to steal an unlikely three points.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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.

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness