• Besiktas 0-0 Arsenal, Champions League

Arsenal weather the storm as Ramsey sees red

ESPN staff
August 19, 2014
Demba Ba proved a constant threat against Arsenal in Istanbul © Getty Images

Arsenal survived a scare in their Champions League play-off with Besiktas as Arsene Wenger's side walked away from the Ataturk Olympic Stadium with a goalless draw.

Aaron Ramsey was sent off and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain saw a late drive hit the post in what was a frantic match in Istanbul but Arsenal will go into the return leg at the Emirates Stadium the happier side.

Match Analysis

  • Key moment: So many to choose from: Demba Ba's audacious effort straight from kick-off, Aaron Ramsey's daft late red card and Tolga Zendin's even-later save to deny substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Zendin takes it by a whisker.
  • Man of the Match: What a Champions League debut for Calum Chambers. Showed maturity beyond his years and was largely brilliant throughout, bar one notable mistake. Wenger's bought himself gold in the young defender.
  • Villain: Has to be Aaron Ramsey. Unlike team-mate Chambers, he showed a touch of naivety at the end and earned himself a silly second yellow, which will rule him out of the return leg. Potentially when Arsenal will need him the most.
  • Rob Bartlett

It was almost a horror start for Arsenal as Demba Ba's shot straight from kick-off clattered the top of the crossbar after a vital touch from Wojciech Szczesny.

Ba proved a constant threat all night for Besiktas and stung the hands of Szczesny with a rasping volley, before Olivier Giroud went close with a deflected looped effort.

Good work from Alexis Sanchez saw Santi Cazorla go close, before Szczesny had to be sharp to deny Veli Kavlak on the half hour mark. Jack Wilshere kept Tolga Zengin busy at the other end with a curling effort.

Ba wasted a great chance on the stroke of half-time; following a rare mistake from the otherwise impressive Calum Chambers, the Besiktas forward cut inside Laurent Koscielny only to drag his shot wide of the post.

The home side continued to exert the pressure early in the second half. Olcay Sahan broke down the left but could only curl the ball around the wrong side of the post with Szczesny rooted to the spot.

Mikel Arteta will be a doubt for the second leg after he departed with what appeared to be an ankle injury. However, Ramsey will definitely miss out after the midfielder naively grabbed the shirt of Oguzhan Ozyakup while already on a yellow card. Referee Milorad Mazic wasted no time in showing Ramsey his first red card of his club career.

Substitute Oxlade-Chamberlain almost won the game late on for Wenger, but his late drive was pushed onto the post by Zengin.

Arsenal, though, will welcome back Germany World Cup-winning trio Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski ahead of next week's second leg at the Emirates Stadium, when they will be out to secure a remarkable 17th successive campaign in the lucrative group stages of Europe's elite club competition.

Champions League Results & Stats

Gonzalo Higuain scored an equaliser to spare Rafael Benitez's blushes as Napoli drew with Athletic Bilbao © Getty Images

It had, however, almost been a nightmare start for the English side. After the ball was rolled from kick-off, Ba sent a brilliant effort looping towards the top corner, which Szczesny clawed up onto the crossbar.

Besiktas may technically have been playing away, with their Vodafone Arena home being redeveloped, but you would not have known it given the ferocity of the Turkish fans, with deafening whistling greeting every touch by a player in a red shirt.

On nine minutes, a deep cross from Mustafa Pektemek on the right was volleyed back towards goal by Ba, but again Szczesny made a good save.

Arsenal suddenly broke down the right through Sanchez, and his cross was hooked goalwards by Giroud as he fell, but blocked inside the six-yard box and the France striker could not hook the rebound in.

The Gunners won 3-0 across the Bosphorus against Fenerbahce at the same stage the Champions League play-off last year and, after weathering the early onslaught, began to get a spell of possession.

On 39 minutes, Arsenal midfielder Wilshere found himself in space on the edge of the Turks' penalty area, and, with Sanchez in space out to the right, tried to chip Zengin, who dived to make an acrobatic save.

Besiktas should have scored just before half-time. A long ball forwards down the left was missed by Chambers and Ba skipped clear towards the penalty area.

However, the striker, who scored a hat-trick in the last round against Feyenoord, fired his low shot wide of the left post. Arsenal then could have stolen the lead themselves, as a one-two with Wilshere put Giroud free in a central position, but he could not make contact and the ball rolled through to the goalkeeper.

Besiktas created another good opening at the start of the second half, as Sahan cut in from the left only to curl his effort wide of the far post having done all of the hard work.

Arsenal were forced into a change on 50 minutes when captain Arteta looked to have turned his ankle and was replaced by Mathieu Flamini, who was quickly booked for a foul on Veli Kavlak.

Right-back Mathieu Debuchy got behind the Besiktas defence and cut the ball through towards Giroud on the penalty spot, but once more the France striker could not make good contact.

Monreal was tripped by Kavlak to conceded a free-kick just outside the Besiktas penalty area. Cazorla struck a low effort goalwards which the keeper gathered at the second attempt.

After Ramsey's red card, the visitors almost snatched victory when Oxlade-Chamberlain, on for Sanchez, cut in from the right and drilled the ball goalwards, but Zengin touched it onto the post at full stretch.

Besiktas coach Slaven Bilic was sent to the stands just before the final whistle, knowing there will be all to play for in north London next week.

Olivier Giroud was back in Arsenal's starting XI but proved fruitless in front of goal © Getty Images
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