Arsenal suffered their first home Champions League defeat to non-English opposition in 46 matches as Schalke recorded a deserved 2-0 victory at the Emirates.
Despite coming into the match having won both their games in this season’s competition, Arsenal were second best throughout before eventually succumbing to two goals in the final 15 minutes from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Ibrahim Afellay.
The Germans, who now top Group B, should have been given a golden opportunity to take the lead in the first 15 minutes. Ibrahim Afellay tried to get on the end of a low through ball running into the area and Arsenal goalkeeper Vito Mannone stretched out an arm before trying to retract it but the Dutchman still tumbled to the floor. Mannone and his team were extremely fortunate that the referee interpreted the incident as a dive form Afellay.
Schalke’s greatest threat, though, came from wide, particularly taking advantage of Andre Santos’ lack of defensive prowess at left-back.
It was from that area of the pitch that the German side created a golden chance to take the lead two minutes before half-time. A long pass over the top found Atsuto Uchida in acres of space down the right and his low squared ball look destined to be converted by the usually lethal Huntelaar six yards out, but, to the amazement of himself and the frustration of his manager, he side-footed wide of the post.
Five minutes into the second half, Schalke wasted another clear chance to take the lead. Again from the right, this time Jefferson Farfan pulled the ball back but, with the goal at his mercy, Benedikt Howedes, just as Huntelaar had done, failed to hit the target as he struck over the crossbar.
With Gervinho cutting a forlorn figure in a central striking role, Arsenal managed just one shot on target over the 90 minutes and there could be no complaints when Schalke finally made the home side pay.
Huntelaar atoned for his earlier miss as he got in between Arsenal’s center-backs from a simple header forward and struck an incisive first time shot past Mannone.
With four minutes remaining Huntelaar’s Netherlands teammate Afellay made it 2-0. Schalke won the ball back inside their own half and lead a fast-paced counter as Farfan was found down the right with Santos out of position and the Peruvian picked out a low cross to the on-loan Barcelona man at the far post to slide home.