No Turkish delight for Arsenal: Ramsey sent off, Arteta injured, Wenger fumes

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After a bruising encounter in Istanbul on Tuesday, Arsenal are feeling relieved to be taking Besiktas back to the Emirates on level terms for the second-leg of their UEFA Champions League play-off next Wednesday.

That said, the Gunners have plenty to complain about and they aren’t keeping quiet.

Inspirational midfielder Aaron Ramsey will miss the pivotal second leg — everything is left to play for after a 0-0 draw which saw both sides squander glorious chances — after being sent off for two yellow cards 10 minutes from the end of a feisty affair. His second yellow did seem rather harsh as he was adjudged to have tugged at the shirt of Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup but contact looked minimal.

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Plenty of meaty challenges flew in from Slaven Billic’s side (the former Croatian national team manager was sent to the stands for protesting against referee Milorad Mazic) in the second half and Gunners captain Mike Arteta sustained an ankle injury which will keep him on the sidelines. Adding insult to injury, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger had a bottle thrown at him by rowdy home fans at the final whistle, as the Gunners couldn’t wait to get out of Istanbul and back to North London.

Speaking after the match, Wenger had the following to say about the Ramsey’s red card, the rough tackling and being targeted personally by the Turkish fans.

“Neither the first nor the second yellow card was deserved [for Ramsey],” Wenger said. “When you see some of the fouls made tonight and we go home with Ramsey red-carded, it’s a bit unbelievable. The challenge on Arteta was very bad but the referee was on the pitch and didn’t see anything of it. It’s very difficult to understand but, in the second half, the performance of the referee was very bad. As I left the pitch a bottle or something was thrown at me. I reported the incident to Uefa.”

It isn’t the first time, and won’t be the last, that Wenger has harsh words to say about the officiating.

All in all, not a great night for Arsenal. They will still fancy their chances of advancing to the UCL group stages for the 17th straight season with the second leg against Besiktas to come at home, however this trip to Turkey will leave a sour taste in the mouth. Besiktas’ manager Billic was unsure if he would be sanctioned for his own actions as Arsenal’s trip to the Ataturk Stadium was far from a uneventful one. With Demba Ba causing plenty of problems up top for the Turkish outfit, they will head to North London next week in a one-off match to decide which side will compete in the UCL group stages this season with a massive cash windfall on the lines.

Arsenal fans, are you nervous?

On Tuesday we saw first hand how incredible atmospheres are created by the locals at the best of times in Turkey, but especially for clashes against English sides. Galatasaray’s fans used to welcome Manchester United’s players to Istanbul by throwing rocks at the team bus, holding up signs saying “Welcome to Hell” and after two Leeds United fans were stabbed to death in Istanbul ahead of a UEFA Cup semifinal in 2000, tension between supporters from the two nations have been high ever since.

That tension boiled over onto the pitch and into the dugouts on Tuesday as Arsenal are certainly not home and dry against Besiktas with everything to play for in the return leg at the Emirates next Wednesday.

Group C wide open as Denmark, Australia settle for draw

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Denmark and Australia settled for a 1-1 draw on Thursday, as this exciting Group C affair had nothing to separate the two nations at the end of 90 minutes.

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As it stands, the Danes lead the group with four points, while Australia earned its first point of the World Cup.

France will meet Peru later on Thursday, with Les Bleus having won its first match and Peru having suffered defeat to Denmark.

The Danes broke through after seven minutes when Nicolai Jørgensen picked out a perfect back-heel pass to Christian Eriksen at the top of the box, before the Tottenham Hotspur attacker volleyed home for a 1-0 lead.

Jørgensen nearly doubled the Denmark advantage in the 24th minute when the 27-year-old had an open header from close range that skewed just wide of the target.

Australia worked its way into the match following the opener, and were awarded a penalty kick in the 37th minute after VAR Mark Geiger altered an initial decision for a handball inside the box.

Mile Jedinak converted the spot kick to level the match at 1-1, giving the Socceroos life.

A dangerous free kick four minutes later almost gave Denmark the lead once again, however, Eriksen couldn’t get a crucial touch on the ball to knock it over the goal line before Ryan collected.

The second half continued with lightning pace from both sides, and Aaron Mooy‘s 71st minute blast came inches away from giving Australia an improbable lead.

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The two nations will conclude Group C play on June 26, as Denmark faces France and Australia takes on CONMEBOL side Peru.

Video: VAR awards Australia penalty, before Jedinak converts

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The Socceroos battled admirably in the latter stages of the first half, and Australia was rewarded for their efforts.

Australia has leveled the match at 1-1 after a Mile Jedinak penalty kick cancelled out Christian Eriksen’s stunning opener in the seventh minute.

After an initial decision to play on by the head referee, VAR Mark Geiger opted to award a penalty kick to the Aussies after Yussuf Poulsen was caught with his hand away from his body on a Mathew Leckie header.

Poulsen was also shown a yellow card for the infraction, which rules him out for Denmark’s group-stage finale against France.

Video: Eriksen volley has Denmark ahead inside 10 minutes

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Denmark is well on its way to another three points on Thursday, and this time it’s Christian Eriksen who has finally broken through at the World Cup.

 MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Eriksen put the Danes in front in the seventh minute after a tremendous volley that gave Australia goalkeeper Maty Ryan no chance at keeping it out.

After a sloppy turnover in their own half, Australia could only watch as the ball fell to Nicolai Jørgensen, who cleverly back-heeled to Eriksen at the top of the box.

The Danes pulled off a 1-0 victory in their first Group C match against Peru, while Australia fell 2-1 to France.

Croatia coach says “we have nothing to lose” against Argentina

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Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic chose his words wisely when discussing their final Group D opponent, Argentina, but his side won’t be backing down when they take on Lionel Messi and Co.

[ MORE: Spain gets win after Iran equalizer called off by replay ]

With three points already in the bag for the European nation, Croatia currently sits atop their group, however, Dalic recognizes the task that lies in front of him and his team on Thursday.

“I didn’t say that Argentina was the easiest opponent,” Dalic said. “I said that this was the easiest game for us. We have nothing to lose. We are playing against one of the best.”

Croatia does have the benefit of having won its first match in group play, which has given the side a decided enthusiasm heading into the meeting.

For Ivan Rakitic — who plays at Barcelona with Messi — he believes there isn’t much he or anyone on his team can say or do to further prepare themselves for the Albiceleste.

“What can I tell them that they don’t know?” Rakitic said. “The world knows. Messi is one of the best players in the world. He will have his moments, clearly. It is up to us to stop him, to play the right way against him, and to enjoy the match and play our best.

“It’s a beautiful thing to play against one of the best teams in the world. We are especially motivated.”

In four all-time meetings, Argentina leads 2-1-1 against Croatia, including a 1-0 victory during the 1998 World Cup in France.

The two teams last met in 2014 following Argentina’s World Cup final defeat to Germany, with Messi and Co. earning a 2-1 victory over Croatia.