Arsenal missed the chance to book their place in the last 16 of the Champions League after throwing away a three-goal lead in tonight’s 3-3 draw with Anderlecht.
Goals from Mikel Arteta, Alexis Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain by 58 minutes had put us in poll position over moving into the second round for a 15th successive season.
However, two goals from Anthony Vanden Borre increased anxiety levels inside the Emirates Stadium for the remaining 17 minutes, before second-half substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic levelled up with a stoppage-time header to delay our passage to the knockout stages.
Having lost 2-1 to us in dramatic circumstances in Brussels a fortnight ago, revenge was on the agenda for Anderlecht tonight, and they would have drawn first blood on 16 minutes but for Wojciech Szczesny’s superb save to deny Sacha Kljestan.
Arsenal slowly but surely grew into the clash, and Sanchez – who had earlier rattled the post – played a superb reverse pass to Danny Welbeck before the striker was hauled down in the box by Chancel Mbemba on the half-hour mark. Arteta stepped up and nonchalantly clipped it down the middle for what was his first Champions League goal.
Sanchez continued to menace and won a free kick on the edge of the box on 29 minutes after an electric surging run through Anderlecht’s midfield. His initial attempt cannoned off the wall, but the in-form Chilean struck a first-time volley from the rebound for his 11th goal in 17 outings this season.
We then earned what seemed like an unassailable lead shortly before the hour mark, with Sanchez forcing a mistake from Kljestan before Oxlade-Chamberlain galloped through to slot home a third.
Anderlecht pulled one back through Vanden Borre, before the defender added a second from the spot after Nacho Monreal conceded a cheap penalty. We still looked like earning the three points and progressing to the next phase, but Mitrovic out-muscled Per Mertesacker in the dying stages to guide a header past Szczesny.
We left the field to a cacophony of boos and this might prove the catalyst for our annual November slump.