Arsenal have kickstarted their Champions League campaign with a 2-1 win over Montpellier at the Stade de la Mosson tonight.
Montpellier were in their first-ever Champions League fixture, up against Arsenal, in their 15th season in a row, and the French champions hit the front early but were beaten thanks to two goals in two minutes from the Gunners who continue their good start to the season.
The Montpellier fans were delighted to see their team in Champions League action and they were even happier inside ten minutes when Younes Belhanda opened the scoring from the penalty spot. The Moroccan received heavy contact from Gunners skipper Thomas Vermaelen right on the edge of the right side of the area before picking himself up to send a deft dink down the middle with Vito Mannone nowhere to be found.
But Arsenal were soon back in touch when former La Paillade striker Olivier Giroud played a neat through ball for Lukas Podolski who took one touch before slotting past Geoffrey Jourdren with his trusty left boot.
Two minutes later and the visitors had taken the lead when Gervinho set up a lovely piece of play on the right flank before racing to get on the end of Carl Jenkinson’s low ball which he was able to knock home from close range despite Jourdren’s best efforts.
The home side had plenty of chances throughout with Marco Estrada beating Kieran Gibbs down the left in the 34th minute before cutting back and sending a dangerous effort goalward which Mannone did well to get fingertips to.
Montpellier had a great chance to level early in the second half when Remy Cabella put Abou Diaby under plenty of pressure just inside the area before slamming his effort wide of Mannone’s goal which was a huge let-off for the Gunners.
In the 56th minute, Cabella was close again when he attempted a cheeky dink from the edge of the box which beat Mannone but not the crossbar moments before Santi Cazorla forced a strong save from Jourdren down the other end.
With ten minutes remaining, Belhanda should really have put Montpellier level when he managed to get free in the six-yard box but hit his open shot straight at a grateful Mannone.
Montpellier had big shouts for a penalty in the 90th minute when Cabella went down under pressure from Diaby but referee Carlos Velasco Carballo waved away the protests allowing the visitors to take home all three points.
UEFA Champions League – Group B
Stade de la Mosson – Montpellier, France – 32,000
Yellow cards: MON - Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa 41’, Younes Belhanda 84’
ARS - Abou Diaby 1’