Arsène Wenger paid the price for sending an under-strength team into a Champions League tie last night as they lost to Seville and surrendered top spot in Group H after a Philippe Senderos howler.
The Arsenal manager was also sent to the stands in the final stages after complaining at what he thought was time-wasting from the Seville full-back Daniel Alves and then refused to leave the area behind the dugout – "where could I go?" he said later. "I have been involved in over 100 Champions League games and I must say his behaviour was absolutely shocking," said Wenger of the fourth official who had spent much of the match telling him to stay in his technical area.
"Alves was down and when the trainer came on he stood up and two minutes later he was sprinting," said Wenger.
The touchline drama overshadowed the fact that leaving William Gallas behind and starting with Senderos backfired when the centre-half mis-hit a clearance that gifted Seville their equaliser. The goal cancelled out Eduardo Da Silva's opener and inspired the Spaniards to victory. "Yes, it backfired, but I don't regret it," Wenger said.
Arsenal were ahead in the 12th minute when a clever back-heel from Emmanuel Eboué wrong-footed Seville's defence and sent Nicklas Bendtner clear down the right. His cross was taken down at the far post by Eduardo who had Alves in attendance but while the full-back dithered, the Croatian flicked the ball home.
For all of Wenger's concerns about Seville's threat down the flanks it was Arsenal with Eboué and Justin Hoyte combining down the right who were catching the eye but then Senderos gifted Seville a way back, clearing into the path of Jesus Navas. Gilberto Silva cleared the winger's cross but only as far as Seydou Keita who slammed the ball home.
The madness was contagious as next Gilberto's clearance went straight to Luis Fabiano. Gilberto, though, got back to make amends blocking the striker's shot.
Arsenal's wobbly defending was inspiring the home side and when Navas was body-checked by Armand Traoré on 34 minutes, Alves whipped in the free-kick and Fabiano beat Kolo Touré to head Seville in front.
Arsenal almost levelled with Andres Palop blocking Eduardo's shot while lying prostrate in his own six-yard box.
There was no let up in rhythm in the second period and Alves sent Fabiano clear only for the striker to fumble his first touch. For Arsenal, Eboué was a threat and there were shouts for a penalty when Christian Poulsen's crunching challenge ended his mazy run inside the area.
Eduardo moved from wide left to a more central role alongside Bendtner to give Arsenal more penetration. But they then lost Cesc Fabregas, the midfielder limping off with a hamstring injury on 55 minutes to be replaced by Tomas Rosicky. Without their talisman Arsenal were then rocked by two Fabiano chances both from Alves crosses. Then the striker won a free-kick on the edge of Arsenal's box with Drago blasting against the wall before Fabiano again went close from the rebound.
Then on 65 minutes the tie looked to be beyond Arsenal as referee Arie Brink pointed to the spot judging that Senderos had cleared a cross from the right with a flailing arm. After furious protests and consultation with his linesman he changed his mind – justice for Senderos who had had a wretched night but got his chest, not his arm, to the ball.
With Wenger embroiled in his touchline drama and Arsenal lacking the big guns who might have got them back into the game Kanouté rolled in a penalty with five minutes left to ensure the win after being bundled over by Touré.
Seville (4-4-2): Palop; Alves, Fazio, Dragutinovic, Crespo (Mosquera, 64); Navas, Poulsen, Keita, Adriano (Marti, 90); Kanouté, Fabiano (Kerzhakov, 78). Substitutes not used: De Sanctis (gk), Renato, De Mul, Arouna Kone.
Arsenal (4-5-1): Almunia; Hoyte (Sagna, 66), Touré, Senderos, Traoré; Eboué (Walcott, 78), Fabregas (Rosicky, 55), Gilberto, Denilson, Eduardo; Bendtner. Substitutes not used: Lehmann (gk), Diara, Flamini, Song.
Referee: E Braamhaar (Netherlands).
Remaining fixtures: 12 Dec: Arsenal v Steaua Bucharest; Slavia Prague v Seville.