Arsenal 1 Borussia Dortmund 2
(Giroud 41, Mkhitaryan 16, Lewandowski 82)

Arsenal were dealt a cruel late blow with a sucker punch as Robert Lewandowski struck with eight minutes remaining for Borussia Dortmund’s winner at the Emirates stadium on Tuesday night. The visitors had opened the scoring after Henrikh Mkhitaryan slotted home after 16 minutes. Olivier Giroud grabbed a deserved leveller four minutes before the break, and despite the Gunners searching for the winner, it was Lewandowski, so profligate at Wembley last week for Poland who broke Wenger’s side’s resolve with the winner late on.

The extra free flowing football that has proved too good for the opposition in their last nine games was never going to be allowed to thrive against a well organised and disciplined Dortmund. In fact the visitors passed and probed their way very much in the manner the home side has previously done at the Emirates stadium, and when the Gunners did get a semblance of play, Dortmund’s high pressing game snuffed out any clear danger. Dortmund had their first sighter on Wojciech Szczesny’s goal after 12 minutes when Marco Reus struck just past Szczesny’s upright. That was a warning that wasn’t heeded, as with their next attack of note, the Bundesliga side took the lead.

Aaron Ramsey has been in the form of his life this season, but his attempt to dribble out deep from his own half was stopped , the ball found Lewandowski, and squared to Mkhitearyan to pick his spot from 12 yards out to beat Szczesny.

Midway through the first half and Arsenal felt they’re should have had a penalty. Bacary Sagna headed into Giroud’s path. The France striker was too strong for his marker but the covering Hummels scythed him down just outside of the area. The resultant free kick saw Laurent Koscileny head over the bar, but the Gunners’ momentum was building. Tomas Rosicky won the ball to break up a Dortmund attack to find the advancing Jack Wilshere. The England midfielder however was unable to get a clean shot away and the ball rebounded off keeper Roman Weidenfeller.

Marco Reus tested Szczesny from a pacy Lewandowski burst, but Arsenal were enjoying their best spell of the half. Ramsey had fired wide from 20 yards, and Rosicky thought his shot from a similar distance would restore parity. With the ball beyond Weidenfeller, the goal seemed certain, that was until Hummels intelligent block on the line kept Dortmund in the lead. Two minutes before the break however that all changed. Ramsey burst through and played in Sagna on the right. The France defender’s cross slipped through Weidenfeller’s clutches for the grateful Giroud to blast in from close range.

After an earlier knock, Wilshere wasn’t moving freely and Wenger waited until close on the hour mark before withdrawing him for Santi Cazorla. A heavy ice pack on Wilshere’s right ankle did not make for pleasant viewing for the Emirates’ faithful. Cazorla himself is slowly coming back to full fitness, but his range of pass found Özil but a cross was not to follow.

Gibbs found Cazorla and the cross was teasing but this time Weidenfeller held the ball. Arsenal did get the ball in the net, but the referee spotted an infringement when Mertersacker headed on Özil’s corner which Ramsey lashed into the net, but the decision to overrule was one that mystified most.

The Gunners continued to surge forward, and as Cazorla raced onto Özil’s pass ahead of a charging Dortmund defender, the Spain midfielder caught the ball, only to see it clip the corner of the upright and crossbar.

Dortmund however were still full on desire and roared on by a vociferous following were rewarded. Kevin Grosskreutz’s energetic burst caught the Gunners’ defence cold, and his cross was met by an unmarked Lewandowski to pick his spot past Szczesny. The Polish striker was perhaps lucky to have remained on the pitch after an earlier elbow on Koscielny, but on such margins the luck can change.

With the return leg in Germany in a fortnight, and Arsenal, Napoli and Dortmund all on six points, the Gunners will know what is needed for them to guarantee safe passage from Group F.