Arsenal’s 2015-16 UEFA Champions League campaign got off to a disappointing start on Wednesday. Olivier Giroud‘s 2015-16 Champions League campaign got off to an even worse start on Wednesday, as Arsenal fell 2-1 to reigning Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb.
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Giroud went so close to drawing first blood for the Gunners when he made solid contact and headed Santi Cazorla‘s in-swinging corner kick toward the far post, only to watch helplessly as Zagreb goalkeeper Eduardo made a sprawling save going to his left to thwart the beleaguered French striker.
Giroud’s tortured time continued in the 18th minute, when he got on the end of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain‘s right-sided cross and headed the ball off the near post. Eduardo then stopped Giroud’s follow-up effort with a quick reaction save while lying on the ground.
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Oxlade-Chamberlain put Zagreb on the board with an own goal in the 24th minute. Josip Pivaric snuck in behind the Arsenal winger and fired a shot from inside the six-yard box. David Ospina, who started in place of Petr Cech, made the save but the rebound caromed off Oxlade-Chamberlain and found the back of the net.
Giroud’s night went from bad to awful in the 40th minute, when he was shown his second yellow card of the game for a high challenge on Zagreb defender Ivo Pinto. His first yellow card was given for dissent after having words with the referee.
Zagreb were mere inches from doubling their lead in the 47th minute, when Soudani headed the ball off Ospina’s right-hand post with the Colombian ‘keeper helpless on the ground. The ball came back into the field of play, but Zagreb’s follow-up attempt rolled agonizingly wide of the target.
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On 58 minutes, Zagreb grabbed the all-important second goal. Paulo Machado whipped in an in-swinging corner kick and Junior Fernandes rose above the Arsenal defense and headed home just inside the far post to send the Stadion Maksimir faithful into raptures.
Theo Walcott raced in behind the Zagreb defense to snatch a late consolation goal for Arsenal in the 79th minute. Alexis Sanchez played the through ball that sprang the English striker, and Walcott dispatched the chance perfectly with a low, right-footed finish inside the far post.