Despite large periods of domination in this encounter, Arsenal FC came away from the UEFA Champions League, Group C return with Olympique Lyonnais at the Arsenal Stadium with just a point. Dennis Bergkamp's 33rd-minute opener was cancelled out on the stroke of full-time by a crashing header from Brazilian Edmilson. Arsenal were left to rue a weak second-half performance which allowed the visitors back into the tie and saw them head back across the Channel clutching a vital point.
Santini - one change
Olympique Lyonnais coach Jacques Santini made just one alteration to his team in the Arsenal Stadium. Vikash Dhorasoo was replaced by Sidney Govou in midfield. The move made Lyon a marginally more offensive side, with Govou playing in an advanced position on the left side. Arsenal FC head coach Arsène Wenger made three changes from the side which earned a 0-1 victory in France. Club captain Tony Adams had a back problem and made way for Oleg Luzhny in the centre of defence. Lee Dixon took over the captain's armband for the evening. Also in were Fredrik Ljungberg and Dennis Bergkamp while Nwankwo Kanu and Bisan Lauren could only find places on the bench.
Following a slow start, Arsenal warmed to their task and after eschewing the lateral approach for something more direct, they got their breakthrough in the 33rd minute. Bergkamp ran onto a well-weighted through pass from Robert Pires and, shrugging off the challenge of Edmilson, put a perfectly-placed shot back across the goalkeeper to help his side to the lead. Edmilson led a protest to the referee, claiming that he had been fouled by Bergkamp. Lubos Michel from Slovakia saw things differently and allowed the goal to stand.
The rest of the half was something of a procession for the home side as they put the Lyon half under siege for large periods. But all this was to change in the second half as the French took advantage of some lackadaisical Arsenal play to, eventually, snatch an equaliser.
Dhorasoo turns game
The turning point was the introduction of substitute Vikash Dhorasoo for Pierre Laigle. The change - a midfielder for a forward - signalled Santini's intention to get a result from the tie. Dhorasoo quickly caused the Arsenal defence problems. Seemingly unfazed by the grandeur and importance of the occasion, the young Frenchman set about terrorising Arsenal's significantly more grown-up back-line with fast feet and incisive runs.
It was incidental that Dhorasoo delivered the 90th- minute corner which undid the English side. He had, in fact, already done the damage with the unease that he transmitted first to the Highbury crowd which in turn was passed on to the Arsenal players. The corner was, to his credit, inch perfect. Edmilson's brief encounter with the ball resulted in a header of supreme power which David Seaman in the Arsenal goal was utterly powerless to stop.
All to play for
Unbridled joy for Lyon at their timely escape was tempered by the disappointment evident in the Arsenal camp. But for all the London side's aggrieved air they really had only themselves to blame for failing to take advantage of the enormous amount of possession they enjoyed. The 1-1 result leaves Group C wide open. FC Bayern München on 10 points are practically assured of progression at this stage, while Arsenal have a point more than Lyon's four who in turn lead Spartak by a point.