Croatian striker Eduardo, who won his appeal against a UEFA suspension on Monday, grabbed the winner as Arsenal fought back from going 2-0 down inside five minutes to win their opening Champions League Group H clash 3-2 at Standard Liege.
Eduardo was only available because the Premier League club successfully appealed against UEFA’s two-match ban imposed for diving against Celtic in the second leg of their qualifying tie. So it was probably fitting Eduardo had the final say, as Arsenal recovered from a terrible start to open their group campaign with a morale-boosting away win. The Belgian side took a shock second minute lead when Arsenal failed to clear a corner and Eliaquim Mangala smashed a low drive into the bottom corner of the net. Moments after the restart, William Gallas was adjudged to have tripped Milan Jovanovic in the area and the Serb stepped up to send rookie goalkeeper Vito Mannone — making his Champions League debut — the wrong way. Arsenal slowly got back into the match and pulled a goal back on the stroke of half-time when Abou Diaby slipped the ball through to Nicklas Bendtner, who drilled a first-time shot through the goalkeeper’s legs.
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The visitors levelled in the 77th minute when a deep free-kick caused havoc in the Liege six-yard box and Thomas Vermaelen bundled the ball over the line. Then, three minutes later, Eduardo slotted in at close range from a corner to complete Arsenal’s comeback. In the other group match, Vassilis Torosidis scored a late header to give Greek champions Olympiakos a 1-0 win over AZ Alkmaar. The defender headed in a cross from Jaouad Zairi in the 79th minute to break the deadlock in a lackluster match in front of new Brazilian coach Zico, who was appointed on Wednesday in place of Temuri Ketsbaia, who was dismissed on Tuesday. Meanwhile, in Group G, Rangers defender Madjid Bougherra made amends for his red card in the Scottish Premier League at the weekend by grabbing the equalizing goal in a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Bundesliga side Stuttgart. The home side took an 18th minute lead when Cacau’s cut-back found Pavel Pogrebniak, who dispatched a powerful right foot shot past goalkeeper Allan McGregor. But Rangers levelled 13 minutes from time when Bougherra worked a one-two with Jerome Rothen before driving past the out-stretched hands of Jens Lehmann. Rangers could even have snatched a last-gasp victory when midfielder Steven Davis struck the post. In the other group match, Brazilian duo Luis Fabiano and Renato grabbed the goals as Sevilla opened their campaign with a 2-0 win over Romanian debutants Unirea Urziceni. Fabiano, who scored twice in the 4-1 Spanish league win over Real Zaragoza at the weekend, broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time after Renato broke down the left and pulled the ball back to the edge of the area — where Fabiano was waiting to slot home confidently. The hosts doubled their lead 20 minutes from time when Diego Perotti swung over a corner and Fabiano headied the ball into the path of compatriot Renato to score from close range.