Arsenal beat 10-man Partizan Belgrade 3-1 in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday despite missing a penalty in a match where Gunners goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski restored some of his tarnished reputation.
The Gunners wasted several chances after Andrey Arshavin gave them a 15th minute and then saw Partizan draw level through Brazil-born striker Cleo. Then, after Marko Jovanovic was sent-off early in the second-half, Arshavin saw his resulting penalty well-saved by goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic before striker Marouane Chamakh restored the London club's lead 19 minutes from time. Sebastien Squillaci then headed in substitute Samir Nasri's corner to make it 3-1 in the 82nd minute
There was still time for Partizan to force a penalty but Fabianski, in for the injured and equally under-fire Manuel Almunia, dived to his right to save Cleo's spot-kick. "We had a good game but because we couldn't finish it off, always in the Champions League you can be punished but in the end we got an important win," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
Victory gave Arsenal two wins out of two in Group H after they thrashed Braga 6-0 in their opener while Partizan were left searching for their first points, having lost 1-0 to Shakhtar Donetsk in the first round. "We have seen the Lukasz I see every day," Wenger said of Fabianski. "I believe it's a good encouragement for him."
Arsenal took the lead but they failed to make the most of their early dominance and saw several chances go to waste before Denilson inexplicably handled a Radoslav Petrovic cross inside his own box. Cleo, recently granted Serbian citizenship, scored from the spot.
A pre-match power failure in the Serbian capital, which affected the floodlights, put a question mark against the game going ahead as scheduled. But an Arsenal side featuring six changes from the team that suffered a shock Premier League loss to West Brom last weekend were able to kick-off on time against the Serbian league leaders.
They opened the scoring when England youngster Jack Wilshere saw his route to goal blocked but still had the awarness to back heel the ball into the path of the onrushing Arshavin who shot into the bottom of the corner. Soon afterwards, Arshavin had a chance for a second goal but Stojkovic was quickly off his line to make a smart save before denying Tomas Rosicky. And when Arshavin's chip cleared the advancing Stojkovic, the quickly covering Jovanovic was able to hack the goalbound shot away.
Early in the second-half, Partizan found themslves a man down after Jovanovic, the last man, was sent-off for a foul just inside the area on Arsenal striker Chamakh. But Arshavin, given the chance to put Arsenal in front from the resulting penalt, saw former Wigan keeper Stojkovic block a weakly struck spot-kick aimed at the centre of the goal with his legs.
However, Arsenal did restore their lead when Chamakh's header from Rosicky's cross was tipped onto the bar by Stojkovic only for the striker to pounce on the loose ball and score from close range.