Arsenal got their Champions League campaign off to a winning start after coming from behind to beat Montpellier 2-1 in France.
Manager Arsene Wenger, serving the first of his three-game touchline UEFA ban, would have been fuming from the stands when captain Thomas Vermaelen gave away an early penalty, which Younes Belhanda chipped in.
However, the Barclays Premier League club responded magnificently and were soon level through a fine finish by German Lukas Podolski. Before the French side, making their Champions League debut following last season's brilliant Ligue 1 campaign, could recover, the Gunners swept ahead on 18 minutes through Gervinho.
Although the hosts rallied after the break, with lively winger Remi Cabella hitting the crossbar and Belhanda missing a great chance late on when he fired straight at stand-in goalkeeper Vito Mannone, Arsenal closed out a battling victory.
The visitors settled well, and soon had the hosts on the back foot. However, Montpellier remained dangerous on the counter-attack - and took a somewhat controversial lead on nine minutes.
Vermaelen slid in on Belhanda at the far right edge of the penalty area, and the Moroccan went down in a heap. However, the assistant indicated the foul was inside the box - much to the disbelief of the visitors. Belhanda got up to take the spot-kick himself, netting Montpellier's first Champions League goal with a nonchalant chip.
Arsenal responded well to trailing for the first time this season - and were behind for less than 10 minutes.
Summer signings Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud, playing against his old club, combined with some slick passing on the edge of the Montpellier area to slip Podolski clear - and the German tucked the ball under goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren.
Before the home side could regroup, Arsenal struck again on 18 minutes.
This time the damage was done down the right, as the ball was recycled quickly through Gervinho and Giroud out to full-back Carl Jenkinson, who darted toward the line before cutting the ball back across the six-yard box - where Gervinho arrived on cue to bundle it in.
- Champions League
- Barclays Premier League