Arsenal kick off Champions League campaign with victory in Marseille

Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey (left) celebrates his goal with Bacary Sagna. Photo: AP Photo/Claude

Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey (left) celebrates his goal with Bacary Sagna. Photo: AP Photo/Claude Paris - Credit: AP

Champions League Group F: Marseille 1 Arsenal 2

Second-half goals from Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey got Arsenal’s Champions League campaign off to a winning start at the Stade Velodrome.

The Gunners looked uninspiring in the first half, but they stepped up a gear after the break to clinch their sixth straight victory – and their 10th consecutive away win in all competitions.

Walcott volleyed Arsenal into the lead in the 65th minute and the in-form Ramsey doubled their advantage before conceding an injury-time penalty that was netted by Jordan Ayew.

Walcott got in behind the home defence in a couple of early attacks, forcing a save from goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, but it was Marseille who made the running for much of the first half.

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Mathieu Valbuena and Andre-Pierre Gugnac both called Wojciech Szczesny into action, while Andre Ayew outjumped Per Mertesacker for a header that almost brushed the far post.

Marseille broke with pace and found gaps with alarming regularity, but they were unable to forge a lead, although Gignac went close with a glancing header shortly before half-time.

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The game opened up after the break, with Mandanda denying Kieran Gibbs after Mesut Ozil’s back-heel had set him up and also pushing Jack Wilshere’s effort behind.

At the other end, right-back Rod Fanni fired a volley fractionally wide, while Szczesny dived to make saves from Dimitri Payet and then Gianelli Imbulla.

The Gunners goalkeeper was left helpless on the hour mark after a howler from Mertesacker, who sliced Valbuena’s cross towards his own goal, but Gibbs headed off the line before Gignac could pounce.

But the deadlock was broken after a defensive error in the other penalty area, with Jeremy Morel making a hash of his attempt to head Wilshere’s cross clear, and the ball sat up for Walcott to lash a volley into the net.

Ozil almost added a second, drilling a left-foot shot across goal, but it was Ramsey who made it 2-0 six minutes from time with a drive that took a deflection off Nicolas N’Koulou.

There was a scare for the Gunners when Ramsey tripped Andre Ayew two minutes into added time and his younger brother smashed home the spot-kick – but it was not enough to deny Arsenal the points.

Arsenal: Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Ramsey, Flamini (Miyaichi 90); Walcott (Monreal 78), Ozil, Wilshere; Giroud.

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