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Arsenal rescues draw against Bayern Munich in Champions League quarterfinals on night of high security

<i>Zac Goodwin/PA/AP via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Police stand outside the stadium ahead of the Champions League quarterfinal between Arsenal and Bayern Munich.
Zac Goodwin/PA/AP via CNN Newsource
Police stand outside the stadium ahead of the Champions League quarterfinal between Arsenal and Bayern Munich.

By Ben Church, CNN

Emirates Stadium, London (CNN) — Arsenal rescued a draw in the first leg of its Champions League quarterfinal against Bayern Munich at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday, on a night which saw a heightened security presence at matches across Europe.

Second-half substitute Leandro Trossard scored a late equalizer to tie the scores at 2-2, setting up an enticing return leg in Munich on April 17.

Talk before the match, however, centered around the extra security measures following a threat from the Islamic State terror group against the Emirates Stadium and other European soccer stadiums hosting Champions League matches.

Earlier on Tuesday, European soccer governing body UEFA had said it was “aware” of the “alleged terrorist threats,” while Arsenal said it was working closely with local police “regarding the safety and security of all supporters and staff.”

While matches in Spain and France promised reinforced security measures, London’s Metropolitan Police said that a robust policing plan had been implemented and fans were certainly faced with an increased police presence as they made their way into the stadium.

Talk after the match, though, was all about a controversial late decision to not award Arsenal a last-gasp penalty after Bukayo Saka went down following a collision with Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

The threats appeared to make no difference to the number of fans attending the game, though, with the stadium boasting a capacity crowd for Arsenal’s first Champions League quarterfinals for 14 years.

There was, however, an obvious lack of Bayern fans who were banned from attending the game as punishment for throwing flares onto the pitch during their side’s win against Lazio in the previous round.

It meant the partisan crowd inside the ground was even louder than normal and it wasn’t long before the home support was celebrating.

Saka curled a wonderful effort into the corner of the net in the 12th minute, sparking wild celebrations amongst the Arsenal faithful who tried to create an atmosphere worthy of the occasion.

Like it has for the majority of games this season, Arsenal began to dominate proceedings and should have doubled its lead when a chance fell to the feet of Ben White.

The full-back had been brilliant in the early stages but fired his effort straight at Neuer when he really should have scored.

It was a chance the host would quickly regret as former Arsenal star Serge Gnabry equalised for the German visitor in the 18th minute, making the most of a rare piece of defensive fragility from the north London side.

Then came the moment that many Arsenal fans dreaded. Leroy Sané turned on the afterburners and raced into the box before being clumsily brought down by William Saliba.

Cue former Tottenham player Harry Kane, who was being booed all night by the fans of his former Premier League rival, to finish off the penalty with ease in the 32nd minute. The striker celebrated the goal with his trademark celebration in front of the Arsenal fans.

Despite all its good early form, it could have got worse for the host before the break.

Sané once again used his electric pace to race behind the Arsenal defense but was stopped in his tracks by a goal-saving challenge from White, just as it looked like the German would extend Bayern’s lead.

The second half was slightly more cagey than the first with Arsenal taking plenty of risks in search of an equaliser, leaving plenty of space for Bayern to counter-attack.

But it was a risk that reaped rewards for Arsenal as Trossard came off the bench to sweep home a smart finish in the 76th minute.

With both teams seemingly content with the draw, the game began to simmer out but it erupted again in the final seconds.

With almost the last attack of the game, Saka went down in the box after colliding with Neuer. Arsenal fans seemed convinced it was a penalty but the referee disagreed, blowing the full-time whistle as Saka lay stricken on the floor.

It’s an incident that will be debated for days, with some in the stadium believing it was Saka who initiated the contact.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said he hadn’t seen the incident and was not keen to dwell on what could have been.

“We go again in Munich,” a smiling Arteta said.

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