Arsenal beats Olympiakos 3-1 in Champions League

By Rob Harris

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 3 2012 3:30 p.m. MDT

Arsenal's Carl Jenkinson, left, gets in a cross despite the challenge of Jose Holebas of Olympiakos during the Champions League Group B soccer match between Arsenal and Olympiakos at the Emirates Stadium in London, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012.

Kirsty Wigglesworth, Associated Press

LONDON — Arsenal maintained its perfect start to the Champions League on Wednesday, with Gervinho, Lukas Podolski and Aaron Ramsey scoring in a 3-1 victory over Olympiakos.

Gervinho's 43rd minute-opener was quickly canceled out as Kostas Mitroglou headed the Greek champions level before halftime, but Arsenal was back in control after the break to ensure it stayed top of Group B.

Gervinho turned provider in the 56th, picking out Podolski in the penalty area and the German's shot went straight through the legs of goalkeeper Balazs Megyeri into the net.

Ramsey made sure of the victory in stoppage time, dinking the ball over Megyeri as Arsenal made a lightning attack.

"The second half was better, in the first half we were sloppy sometimes with the passing, we lost a lot of balls," Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen said. "We started well but the first half was not great."

While Olympiakos is pointless at the bottom of Group B, Arsenal has a maximum six points after beating Montpellier 2-1 two weeks ago.

"It gives us more confidence to have two wins from two," Vermaelen said. "The most important thing is to win your home games. We want to keep it going."

The Gunners were looking for an immediate response to its first loss of the season on Saturday at the hands of Chelsea — and they got it.

Pressing with verve and conviction inspired by Cazorla from the start, it was the Spanish midfielder who came close to giving Arsenal an early lead.

A free kick was destined for the top of the net until Megyeri produced a fingertip save.

Megyeri's opposite number Vito Mannone to be alert, though, to block a low strike from Mitroglou from the edge of the area.

An edginess has returned to Arsenal's defense after a solid start to the season, and looked like being exploited again.

A cross from Giannis Maniatis was allowed all too easily to find its way into the penalty area. Arsenal was only rescued by Paulo Machado's poor finishing, with a scuffed conenction and the resulting shot scooped over with the goal at his mercy.

"We started well, with a high tempo and that was great but then we dropped a little," Vermaelen said.

But Olympiakos' defense was breached first as Gibbs and Lukas Podolski combined down the left flank and ball reached the edge of the penalty area where Gervinho seized the ball and struck it into the net.

The visitors immediately pushed for the equalizer, but Machado was too rushed as he shot from distance and Mannone easily collected the shot.

They succeeded, though, a minute later. Lenadro Greco sent with precession from the right flank into the penalty area where Mitroglou rose between the center backs to plant a header into the net.

Arsenal's first chance to go back in front in the second half was squandered when Cazorla missed the target after Gervinho did the hard work, cutting the ball back to his unmarked teammate in front of goal.

But after Gervinho's interplay with Cazorla on the right, Podolski put Arsenal in front, with a shot through the legs of Megyeri, which the goalkeeper also helped to divert into the net.

"Today he had two or three good saves and when it comes to the goal, in football you can always only do the best you can," Olympiakos coach Leonardo Jardim said through a translator.

Mannone started the move that led to the third, with a long throw flicked on by Olivier Giroud to fellow substitute Ramsey. The midfielder went past captain Giannis Maniatis and cooly lifted the ball over the onrushing Megyeri.

"The result doesn't represent Olympiakos ... but this result has given us a lesson that in this competition it's very important to take your chances," Jardim said.

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