Arsenal are staring a humiliating and damaging defeat in the face after entering half time of their Champions League opener against Dinamo Zagreb a goal and a player down.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s unfortunate own goal and Olivier Giroud’s reckless red card have left the Gunners 1-0 behind and with a second-half mountain to climb in Croatia.
Zagreb, who have not won a Champions League match since 1999, started brightly but could not test stand-in Arsenal keeper David Ospina with any of their early long-range sighters.
The Croatian champions soon forged a clearer opening as El Arbi Hillel Soudani picked out the adventurous run of left-back Josip Pivaric, who had been let free by Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Pivaric’s initial effort was blocked by Ospina, but rebounded off the knee of the England midfielder and into the net, as the below video shows, as Arsenal fell into a shock deficit on 24 minutes.
The visitors may still have been confident of turning over the minnows before Giroud, who was preferred to Theo Walcott in attack, was sent off for a second yellow card on 40 minutes.
Seemingly frustrated by missing a couple of chances and several decisions going against him, the Frenchman was firstly cautioned for dissent, and then booked for a high tackle on Ivo Pinto.
Arsenal lost their first group game in last season’s competition, but still managed to progress to the knockout stages, where they were surprisingly beaten by AS Monaco on away goals at the first hurdle.
But, with Bayern Munich to play twice in their remaining five Group F games, Arsene Wenger’s side may not be able to afford to do the same if they are to make the last 16 for a 16th straight year.