LONDON: Arsenal recovered from an unimpressive first half to post a 2-1 away win over Olympique Marseille in a solid opening to its Champion League campaign.
Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho’s dreams of winning the Champions League with Chelsea suffered an early setback when the Londoners fell to a shock 2-1 home defeat by Swiss champions Basel at Stamford Bridge.
Theo Walcott volleyed home for Arsenal in the 65th minute after benefiting from Jeremy Morel’s defensive blunder, before Aaron Ramsey put the result beyond doubt seven minutes from time with a deflected low shot.
Arsene Wenger’s side, who looked listless in the first half, are level in Group F with Napoli, who beat last season’s runners-up Borussia Dortmund 2-1.
“Marseille played well, while we played within ourselves in the first half and were a bit timid,” Wenger said after the win.
“But then they dropped a bit in the second half. I knew when it was still 0-0 after an hour that the team who scored first would win.”
Olympique Marseille had a handful of chances with Andre-Pierre Gignac, Andre Ayew and Rod Fanni coming close to scoring, before Jordan Ayew reduced the arrears with a penalty in added time.
Chelsea, beaten in the Premier League by Everton on the weekend, looked short of ideas all night in a stuttering display, though it led 1-0 following a neat finish by Oscar just before half-time.
The Brazilian hit the bar soon after the re-start, as Chelsea briefly turned on the style but it was never able to take complete control and Mohamed Salah equalised in the 71st minute.
Basel, beaten by Chelsea in the Europa League semi-finals last season, grew in confidence and scored again 10 minutes later when captain and centre forward Marco Streller cleverly glanced in a near-post header from a corner.
After the game Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho questioned if his side had the experience to weather the storms that inevitably come throughout elite matches.
“I think it’s probably not a team with such a personality and maturity to face the difficult moments of a game,” Mourinho told reporters.