A late Robert Lewandowski strike gave Borussia Dortmund a 2-1 lead away to Arsenal with only eight minutes remaining on Tuesday.
And with the Gunners having expended all their energy in search of a winner throughout much of the second period, they had little left in the tank as time expired at a rain-soaked Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal had restored level terms coming out of the opening period thanks to an Olivier Giroud goal that cancelled out Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s 16th-minute opener.
But the Lewandowski winner ensured Dortmund left London with six points in Group F—the same number taken by both Arsenal and Napoli from three matches.
Dortmund made the brighter start as the clouds settled in over the Emirates on Tuesday evening, Kevin Grosskreutz and Mats Hummels firing early warning shots from distance.
Kept outside the attacking third as their guests adopted an aggressive pressing game, Arsenal had barely got a foothold in the encounter by the time Mkhitaryan struck—his right-footer from just outside the box beat Arsenal goalkeeper Wojtiech Szczesny following a giveaway by Aaron Ramsey.
Laurent Koscielny had an opportunity to equalize in the 23rd minute when his header from Mesut Ozil’s free-kick sailed over the bar, but it would take until just four minutes before half-time until the Gunners finally got back on level terms.
Bacary Sagna, who had enjoyed some space down the right but had as yet to play a decent cross into the box, finally found Giroud with an accurate ball in the 41st minute. Neven Subotic and Roman Weidenfeller collided as they rushed for the ball, and the Frenchman pounced and smashed it into the back of the goal with aplomb.
Arsenal were a different side after the restart and had what looked to be the go-ahead goal in the 66th minute only for the referee curiously to blow his whistle for a foul.
Three minutes later Santi Cazorla rang a hard, curling effort off the crossbar, but that would be the closest the hosts would come on a night that presented precious few openings in front of goal.
70% - Robert Lewandowski has scored seven of Borussia Dortmund's last ten Champions League goals. Poacher #afcbvb— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) October 22, 2013
With eight minutes remaining, make-shift Dortmund right-back Grosskreutz found Lewandowski with a pin-point ball from the blank and the Poland international required only a single touch to direct it past Szczesny for what proved to be the winner.
Key Player Grades
Mikel Arteta: A
His name didn’t turn up on the scoresheet—it rarely does—but Arteta was Arsenal’s best player on Tuesday, helping his teammates weather the storm when on the back foot and putting in no fewer than 11 successful tackles in an effort to turn play in the opposite direction. The Spaniard also completed an impressive 90 per cent of his passes. (All statistics courtesy WhoScored.com)
Robert Lewandowski: A-
The Poland forward committed at least six fouls and found himself in the book shortly after the hour mark. No doubt some observers will have been incensed that he still remained on the pitch in the 82nd minute, but with what proved his most influential move of the match, he needed only a single touch of the ball to turn Grosskreutz’s cross into goal for the winner.
Marco Reus: A
Reus was the unsung hero of the Mkhitaryan goal—his work rate created the turnover that allowed his teammate to open the scoring. He also contributed an impressive six tackles in an all-around effort worthy of the three points on this night.
Next up for Arsenal is a Saturday match away to Crystal Palace in the Premier League. Three days after that, they’ll host Chelsea in the Carling Cup and on November 2 they’ll host Liverpool.
Dortmund, meanwhile, have a massive match away to Schalke on Saturday and will host Stuttgart on November 1.