Aaron Ramsey was sent off for the first time in his club career, but Arsenal did enough to earn a 0-0 draw at Besiktas in the first leg of their Champions League play-off at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium.
Arsene Wenger's side know that any sort of win at the Emirates Stadium next Wednesday will see them through to the group stage for a 17th straight season, but the Turkish side will take heart from avoiding shipping an away goal.
Ramsey walked for a second booking after hauling back Oguzhan Ozyakup, but substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came close to winning it for the Premier League side when his run and shot ended with Zengin tipping an effort onto a post with three minutes remaining.
Former Chelsea forward Demba Ba almost scored in the opening seconds for the home side when his effort from kick-off came back off the bar from the halfway line with Wojciech Szczesny toiling to get back before palming the ball onto his woodwork.
Arsenal have won all 12 of their previous Champions League play-off matches, knocking out Dinamo Zagreb (2006/07), Sparta Prague(2007/08), FC Twente (2008/09), Celtic (2009/10), Udinese (2011/12) and Fenerbahçe (2013/14).
Unless they stage a massive collapse, you would expect them to finish off the task in London with Arsenal never having lost in 90 minutes to a Turkish side in eight meetings.
1' - BA HITS BAR: the home side hit the bar. Demba Bar hits the bar from the halfway line. Not sure Szczesny was getting there. So unfortunate.
12' - CAZORLA FIRES WIDE: Sloppy defending by Besiktas, but Cazorla drives the ball wide of goal from the Sanchez pass. Decent hit and run, but just off target as the shot sails wide.
43' - BA MISSES TARGET: Error by Chambers, but Ba can't punish the youngster. Bounds in towards goal, but drives the shot wide from 16 yards with Szczesny diving to his left. Sholud have been the opener.
44' - GIROUD FAILS TO CASH IN: Lovely pass from Ramsey to find Giroud, but he can't cash in as the ball drops into the arms of Zengin.
49' - ARTETA HOBBLES OFF: Arteta in a spot of trouble here. Hobbling heavily. Looks like he may have run his race for this evening.
77' - RAMSEY WALKS FOR A SECOND YELLOW CARD: A second yellow card for Ramsey, and he is off the park. Red card for Ramsey after taking out Oguzhan Ozyakup.
85' - OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN SEES A SHOT HIT A POST: Zengin was beaten by the power of the shot, but the goalkeeper managed to get a hand on the ball to deflect it onto the post. Superb goalkeeping.
TALKING POINT: How impressive were Arsenal? This was workmanlike from the Gunners. Was not overly convincing, but didn't really need to be. Survived a couple of scares, but also went close themselves. All in all, this was a forgettable evening for Arsenal. Which is no bad thing. They would have taken 0-0 prior to the match. Albeit without losing MIkel Arteta to injury in the second half, and Ramsey for a couple of needless bookings. Very early in the season to be playing such a key match, but Arsenal's new-look side coped well.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Calum Chambers - Made one error when he misjudged the ball. Demba Ba almost profited, but he sped on only to drive the effort wide of goal from 18 yards out. Apart from that moment, Chambers coped admirably. Looks to be a fine piece of business. You forget how inexperienced he is at this level yet he is outstanding in defence.
Aaron Ramsey was sent off for the first time in his club career.
Arsenal's last five goals in Champions League qualifying away games have all arrived in the second half.
Besiktas had more shots (6-5), shots on target (4-1) and possession (52%-48%) than Arsenal in the first-half tonight.
Arsenal have won 12 of their previous 13 Champions League qualifying games.
Besiktas: Tolga Zengin 7, Ismail Koybasi 7, Ramon Motta 7, Ersan Gulum 6, Pedro Franco 7, Olcay Sahan 7, Veli Kavlak 7, Necip Uysal 7, Oğuzhan Ozyakup 6, Mustafa Pektemek 6, Demba Ba 7...subs: Gokhan Tore 6, Cenk Tosun 6, Kerim Koyunlu 6
Arsenal: Wojciech Szczesny 7, Mathieu Debuchy 7, Calum Chambers 8, Laurent Koscielny 6,.Nacho Monreal 6, Mikel Arteta 5, Jack Wilshere 6, Aaron Ramsey 5, Alexis Sanchez 7, Santi Cazorla 5, Olivier Giroud 6...subs: Mathieu Flamini 6, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 7, Tomas Rosicky 6
MATCH IN A TWEET
- Sports & Recreation
- Aaron Ramsey
- Demba Ba
- Wojciech Szczesny