By Richard Clarke at the Bulls Arena, Salzburg
Arsenal ended their Austrian training camp with a disappointing 1-0 defeat at Red Bull Salzburg on Wednesday night.
The only goal came 15 minutes from time when Vladimir Janocko latched onto a loose ball and fired home from just outside the area.
It was perhaps harsh on Arsenal who did not deserve to lose this lively game. But then the result is never the most important element in a pre-season friendly and there were pluses for the visitors this evening.
Eduardo completed his first 90 minutes in an Arsenal shirt and again looked threatening. Emmanuel Eboue contributed well when he was pushed up into midfield following an injury to Tomas Rosicky. Meanwhile Alex Hleb was at heart of the most incisive Arsenal attacks.
It was another solid work-out for Arsène Wenger's side. Even if the result was not welcome.
Tonight's game celebrated the official opening of the Bulls Arena. It was a not a new stadium just a re-development of the existing one. A extra tier had been built around this compact ground putting the capacity up to 31,000 ahead of next year's European Championships.
With that tournament in mind, Salzburg had also put a grass pitch over their usual synthetic one especially for this game. All in all this game would be a novel experience for both teams and both sets of supporters.
For Arsenal, Johan Djourou's late withdrawl saw Kolo Toure step up from the bench. William Gallas was captain.
The opening exchanges were spirited. In the third minute Sasa Ilic prodded a shot past Jens Lehmann's post. Arsenal replied immediately when Rosicky spotted Eduardo racing through and keeper Timo Ochs kicked away his drive.
The Croatian looked a live-wire in the opening stages and fired into the chest of the Salzburg No 1 from distance a few minutes later.
By this point, Arsenal were starting to take control, though they were creating precious few chances. Midway through the half Diaby strode forward, hurdled a couple of challenges and broke into the area. However Ochs cuts out his cross at the near post.
But, backed by the noisy home support, Salzburg were always in the game. Alexander Zickler gave them something to cheer about when he hammered an effort wide on the half hour.
Two minutes later, a wincing Rosicky made way for Sagna. The Frenchman slotted in at full back with Eboue pushed forward in the right side of midfield.
The Czech had enjoyed an influential game until that point. After the change, the game lost its way before the half-time whistle.
Wenger made a further four changes at the break. One of them, Nicklas Bendtner, played a part as Arsenal nearly took the lead in the 57th minute. Hleb breezed past marker and cut the ball back from the ball. Bendtner helped the ball on to Eduardo who stabbed a shot past the near post when should have hit the target at least.
Five minutes later Lukasz Fabianski came to collect a high swirling cross at the edge of his area. Although the young Pole let the ball go hastily referee Bernhard Brugger ruled that he had handled outside the box. Fabianski was booked but, fortunately for Arsenal the free-kick came to nothing.
Both sides were starting to chance their arm a little more now. With 20 minutes left, Eduardo tricked himself into a yard of space on the edge of the six-yard box but saw Ramazan Ozcan pull off a sharp save. Bendtner's follow up was blocked.
Five minutes later, Salzburg got the goal. The Austrian side broke forward and, somewhat surprisingly, right back Milan Dudic found himself in space eight yards out. He seemed startled by the opportunity and crossed when it seemed more sensible to shoot. The ball deflected out to Janocko just outside the area who rammed his shot home past the stranded Fabianski.
Eboue responded with a dip from distance. At the other end Christoph Leitgeb went close from similar range.
Arsenal gambled in the latter stages as Flamini and Eduardo sent headers wide.
But, in the end, it was not enough.
- Lehmann 46
- Traore 46
- Denilson 46
- Diaby 68 Yellow Card
- Rosicky 32
- van Persie 46
- Fabianski 46 Yellow Card
- Sagna 32
- Hoyte 46
- Randall 68
- Flamini 46
- Bendtner 46
- Ochs 46
- Kovac 46
- Vargas 72
- Vonlanthen 58
- Ilic 58
- Pitak 58
- Aufhauser 46
- Alex 46
- Zickler 58
- Ozcan 46
- Miyamoto 72
- Carboni 46
- Steinhofer 58
- Janocko 58 Goal!
- Jezek 58
- Lokvenc 58
- Leitgeb 46