Arsenal beaten by FC Koln, but confirm top spot in Europa League Group H
Arsenal were beaten 1-0 by FC Koln in the Europa League in Germany tonight.
A soft second half penalty from Sehrou Guriassy in the 62nd minute was enough to give the hosts the win.
FC Koln have not won a game in the Bundesliga all season, but have now won their last two Europa League matches.
The home side went into the match knowing that if Red Star Belgrade won at Bate Borisov in Group H’s other fixture tonight they would also require victory to keep alive their hopes of making the knockout stage.
They got their win and Red Star Belgrade and BATE drew 0-0 in the other Group H match.
A result that also ensures Arsenal top Group H despite the loss tonight. And Koln duly keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the last 32.
The home keeper Timo Horn produced a man-of-the-match performance, but it was a disappointing performance and result for Arsenal.
The Gunners dominated the match but were unable to find a way past Horn, despite creating chances at will against a below strength home side low in confidence.
There was a minute of applause for former player Koln player Hans Schafer, who died earlier this month. He made almost 400 appearances for the club.
Arsene Wenger made 11 changes to the side that started the 2-0 north London derby win over Spurs on Saturday.
Danny Welbeck was back in the starting line-up after missing the past seven games with a groin injury.
David Ospins, Calum Chambers, Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud also returned.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles could have put Arsenal ahead in the opening 90 seconds.
He was set up by neat build-up play by Welbeck and Wilshere, but Timo Horn blocked his attempted chip and the ball went out for a corner..
The home side responded by creating a chance of their own in the 5th minute.
Jhon Cordoba forced his Colombian compatriot Ospina to turn a shot round the post for a corner.
Infrequent goalscorer Francis Coquelin then fired narrowly wide from the edge of the penalty area in the 14th minute.
Wilshere then headed tamely straight at Horn from a Maitland-Niles cross in the 21st minute.
Coquelin was then denied when his shot hit the foot of the post in the 30th minute as Arsenal pressed for the opening goal.
Next Welbeck curled the ball narrowly wide of the post two minutes later.
The home side lost their captain Dominic Maroh to a hamstring injury in the 35th minute, after he stretched to hook the ball away from Olivier Giroud.
On the stroke of half-time Mohamed Elneny shot high over the bar and the sides went into the break goalless.
Alex Iwobi replaced Welbeck at the start of the second half.
Arsenal continued to dominate possession, but the were unable to create any clear-cut chances as the match became increasingly scrappy.
The home threatened on the hour mark. Guriassy unmarked on the edge of the area shot tamely and it was an easy save for David Ospina.
Guirassy then made a decisive contribution to break the deadlock. The referee judged that he had been fouled in the box under a challenge by Mathieu Debuchy.
Guirassy calmly converted the penalty to give Koln the lead in the 62nd minute.
Arsene Wenger responded by replacing Chambers with Reiss Nelson.
A shot from Wilshere was pushed away by the excellent Horn in the 65th minute
Giroud had the chance to equalise in the 76th minute. A quick free-kick from Wilshere found the Frenchman free in the penalty area, but his shot was blocked by Horn.
Man of the match Horn then tipped a Wilshere drive over the crossbar at the death,as the home side held on for the win to keep their Europa League hopes alive.
Arsenal: Ospina 6, Debuchy 5 (Nketiah), Mertesacker 6, Holding 6, Chambers 5 (Nelson), Elneny 5, Coquelin 5, Maitland-Niles 7, Wilshere 6, Welbeck 6 (Iwobi), Giroud 6