Report: Porto 2-1 Arsenal
Arsenal will have some comeback to do in two week’s time.
The Gunners had traveled to Portugal with a fair chance of progress in the Champions League but a 2-1 defeat to Porto has now slimmed those hopes.
A very frantic, open affair at the Dragao was decided through the blundering prowess of Lukasz Fabianski.
A ludicrous own goal and an early second-half howler from the Polish goalkeeper meant Campbell’s scoring return in the Champions League was only little encouragement.
Even so, that was the away goal Arsenal craved in this ever-vital knockout round and we will learn it’s value on March 9.
Arsenal have had a recent tendency for early defensive slips and an under-hit back pass from Denilson allowed Porto to pour forward. It took a superb tackle from Campbell on Falcao, followed by Thomas Vermaelen’s block from Rúben Micael, to spare the visitors the worst of starts.
A fierce Hulk drive that skimmed past Fabiański’s post kept the pressure on the Gunners, who cracked with just 11 minutes gone as Fabiański fumbled Varela’s low centre over his own goal line.
Arsène Wenger appeared unimpressed in the Arsenal dugout, but his charges responded with character. Nicklas Bendtner speared a deflected effort wide and then a moment that belonged in a script as Campbell headed in from a set piece, just as he had at the Stade de France against FC Barcelona.
Cesc Fàbregas supplied the corner, Tomáš Rosický nodded the ball back across goal from Vermaelen’s flick and the oldest player on the pitch altered the momentum of the tie.
Rosický came close to swinging it even more emphatically in Arsenal’s favour with a whipped shot turned wide by Helton, before Rúben Micael tested Fabiański with similar results.
Porto coach Jesualdo Ferreira had predicted an open match and he was being proved correct, as Bendtner became the next player to threaten with a header that Helton did well to palm over.
It was Porto who broke through after the break, though, Fabiański penalised for picking up a Campbell back pass and Falcao finishing from Rúben Micael’s quickly taken free-kick.
Fabiański saved Wenger’s men from falling further behind with impressive stops from Hulk and Raul Meireles, yet conceding for a second time had clearly sapped their morale and they were in danger of wilting as an attacking force.
Theo Walcott was sent on to reverse that trend, Rosický making way, however it was from dead-ball situations that the Premier League outfit looked most likely to respond.
The Gunners left with some job to do.