| 17.6°C Dublin

Giroud enjoys 'home' comforts

Bould on the touchline; not so bold on the pitch. Arsenal opened their 15th successive Champions League campaign with two counter-punches of attacking power as they made their move in Group B.

Not that they were not hurt themselves. Defensive lapses, and a whirlwind of desire from the home side and their supporters, meant an apparently easy ride turned into a white-knuckle rollercoaster at times. But Arsenal sucked it up and held on.

With Arsene Wenger banned from the dug-out, it was left to his new assistant Steve Bould to take charge of the side and, once again Arsenal enjoyed success on French soil.

Just. Nine ties now in Wenger's homeland; six wins and three draws, but they were pushed here.

It was also a happy return for Olivier Giroud against his former club -- the French striker was heavily involved in Arsenal's two first-half goals although he, once again, didn't appear likely to score himself.

Giroud's return to the club he left during the summer -- having scored 21 league goals to propel Montpellier to their first ever title. But the hosts have suffered a monumental hangover, with three defeats already this season in the league and a bout of recriminations.

Giroud would have feared that is where he would start this contest -- alongside out-of-favour contract rebel Theo Walcott -- but Wenger clearly weighed up the benefits of including his£12m forward who had yet to fire for his new club. Familiarity, it was hoped, would breed content for Giroud.

The returning striker received a warm welcome from the home fans, but the stadium erupted early on when Thomas Vermaelen was adjudged to have fouled Younes Belhanda. A penalty, to Arsenal's consternation -- they argued it was a fair challenge and also outside the area (wrong on both accounts it transpired) -- was awarded and Belhanda coolly executed a 'Panenka' kick to chip into the centre of the net as stand-in goalkeeper Vito Mannone dived to his right.

But Arsenal responded. A superb build-up involving Abou Diaby and Santi Carzola led to Giroud slipping a first-time pass to the onrushing Lukas Podolski (below), who steadied himself inside the area and sidefooted home for his third goal in three games. And on 17 minutes, the Gunners went in front, with a slick, incisive move; Carl Jenkinson was released down the right, with Giroud involved once more, to sweep in a low cross that was met by Gervinho.

The hosts picked themselves up, and dominated the rest of the game, with Arsenal restricted to the occasional counter, but the Gunners held on despite numerous scares. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent