Posted on October 20, 2009
Arsenal paid the price for a sloppy second half as AZ Alkmaar equalized in stoppage time to earn a 1-1 draw in Champions League Group H.
Gunners skipper Cesc Fabrgeas has been in sparkling form for Arsene Wenger’s men, and opening the scoring at the DSB Stadium after coolly slotting home a simple tap-in on 36 minutes.
The goal came from a defensive blunder by Niklas Moisander, whose slip was pounced on by Andrey Arshavin who fed Robin van Persie, with the Dutchman unselfishly squaring the ball to Fabregas six yards out.
AZ had only previously lost once in 34 home games in Europe, making Arsenal’s first-half dominance all-the-more impressive.
And apart from two chances for the hosts, when former Spurs striker Mounir El Hamdaoui fired inches over the crossbar on 26 and Hector Moreno poked a 77th-minute free-kick narrowly wide of the upright, it was a comfortable night for the Gunners, who went into cruise control after the interval.
They should have been comfortably ahead after the first half, with van Persie drawing three fine saves from home goalkeeper Sergio Romero with fierce drives and Arshavin cheekily chipping onto the roof of the net.
But they paid the price for deciding to cruise through the second period, which saw the hosts grow in confidence before finally grabbing an equalizer in the dying seconds, when a free-kick into the box was headed into the path of David Mendes Da Silva, who gave Vito Mannone no chance at all with a rasping volley from 15 yards out.
Wenger’s men still top the group on seven points – but the Frenchman will feel it is two points dropped rather than one banked.