Arsenal came from behind and for the first time in six attempts stunned Barcelona with a 2-1 victory at the Emirates Stadium. A goal down just before the half-hour mark and still trailing with 12 minutes remaining Arsenal again looked to be heading for defeat against the Spanish giants Barcelona.

But the Gunners are a stronger unit than when the two teams met last season and strikes from Robin van Persie and Andrey Arshavin enable boss Arsene Wenger to take a narrow one goal advantage into the second leg of the Champions League last 16 at the Nou Camp.

Barca paid the price for easing up just when they thought the result was going their way, but credit Arsenal for a fine performance which was an improvement on last season's meeting.

But when Barca took the lead after Lionel Messi played through David Villa for the opener it seemed for all the host's fine approach play defensive frailties would again be their undoing.

Messi then had a goal chalked off for a marginal offside decision but Arsenal refused to be 'passed' into submission by their Catalan visitors and got their reward on 78 minutes when van Persie levelled from a tight angle.

If the Emirates had erupted with that goal it went wild five minutes later when Arsenal broke quickly and Arshavin curled in a delightful winner.

This was the perfect way for the Gunners to celebrate their 200th game in Europe as they showed they can now compete on level terms with arguably the best club side in the world.

Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Italy)

Venue: Emirates Stadium Attendance: 59,927

Arsenal scorers: Van Persie 78, Arshavin 83 Barcelona scorers: Villa 26

ARSENAL 53 Szczesny 06 Koscielny 20 Djourou 22 Clichy 27 Eboue 04 Fabregas 08 Nasri (yellow card) 14 Walcott (Bendtner 77) 17 A Song (yellow card) (Arshavin 68) 19 Wilshere 10 Van Persie

Substitutes 01 Almunia, 18 Squillaci, 28 Gibbs, 07 Rosicky, 15 Denilson, 23 Arshavin, 52 Bendtner

BARCELONA 01 Valdes 02 Daniel 03 Pique (yellow card) 19 Maxwell 22 Abidal 06 Xavi 08 Iniesta (yellow card) (Adriano Correia 89) 16 Busquets 07 Villa (Keita 68) 10 Messi 17 Pedrito

Substitutes 13 Pinto, 18 Milito, 21 Adriano Correia, 14 Mascherano, 15 Keita, 20 Afellay, 09 Bojan

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