Gunners on brink of Champions League exit
Gunners on brink of Champions League exit

Arsenal were beaten 3-1 by Monaco in the first leg of their Uefa Champions League last 16 tie at the Emirates Stadium tonight.

All Arsenal’s familiar failings were given airing as Monaco took a firm grip on the tie.

Monaco took advantage of a deflected shot to take the lead in the 38th minute, with a 25 yard effort from Geoffrey Kondogbia flying past David Ospina off Per Mertesacker into the net.

It was a huge slice of luck for Monaco who had weathered a bright start from Arsenal.

Danny Welbeck spurned an early chance to give Arsenal the lead when he curled an angled shot just over the crossbar.

Mesut Ozil had an appeal for a penalty turned by the German referee when Wallace appeared to handle the ball – with replays showing the Ozil may well have had a case despite it being missed by both the referee and his assistant behind the goal.

Alexis Sanchez had a chance from 18 yards out, but toe-poked the ball just over the crossbar.

Monaco – who had only conceded only once in 6 group matches – always looked dangerous on the counter-attack.

Joao Moutinho’s volley flew high off target after a break down the left, just before Kondogbia struck Monaco’s opening goal.

Arsenal raised the tempo at the start of the second half, as they pressed for an equaliser.

It looked sure to come when Alexis burst clear down the right and crossed to the near post,butGiroud missed his kick and stabbed the ball wide.Giroud had the chance to make amends a few minutes later, but headed over after a curling free-kick into the Monaco box.It proved a crucial miss, as Monaco broke to double their lead on 53 minutes with a clinical counter attack.Not for the first time in recent seasons Arsenal were caught short of players as they committed men to force anequaliser.With Per Mertesacker and most of the Arsenal defence stranded upfield, Anthony Martial carried the ball down the left and played it across to Berbatov, who showed composure to fire the ball past Ospina into the net.

It was the sort of composure that Giroud was unable to show a few minutes later, when he missed a gilt-edged chance to get Arsenal back into the match and tie.

Alexis cross-shot was parried out by goalkeeper Danijel Subasic and fell to Giroud, who could only blast the ball over from six yards.

It was Giroud’s final contribution on awoeful night for him, as he was replaced on the hour mark by Theo Walcott.

As Arsenal pressed for an equaliser Monaco almost went further ahead when Moutinho picked out Martial on the overlap, and his angled drive was beaten away by Ospina.

Walcott got ahead of the defence onto a through-ball, and saw his shot saved, with the rebound falling to Welbeck, but somehow the goal-bound follow-up hit Walcott’s leg and spun over the crossbar.

Arsenal made another change as Oxlade-Chamberlain, out since mid-January, replaced Francis Coquelin.

The England midfielder produced a fine curling finish from the edge of the penalty area in stoppage time to pull a goal back from Arsenal.

It looked to be a goal that would provide Arsenal with a lifeline going into the second leg.

Arsenal were unable to get hold of the ball after the re-start and conceded a number free-kicks as they attempted to win back the ball to push for a equaliser.

Monaco struck what might be the decisive blow in the tie, as they won the ball on the halfway line.

Carrasco ran through a tiring and threadbare Arsenal defence, before slotting the ball into the far corner of the net off the post for a third goal for the French side on the night.

It leaves Arsenal in serious danger of exiting the Champions League at the last 16 stage for a fifth successive year, when they head to the Principality for the return leg next month.

Arsenal: Ospina 6, Bellerin 6, Gibbs 6, Mertesacker 6, Koscielny 6, Coquelin 7 (Oxlade-Chamberlain), Cazorla (Rosicky) 5, Ozil 5, Alexis 6, Giroud 5 (Walcott), Welbeck 5