Robin van Persie marked his first pre-season appearance with two exemplary finishes as Arsenal drew an entertaining game at Beveren on Tuesday night.
The Dutch forward rifled home twice inside five second-half minutes to give the Gunners a glimpse of victory, but Gerjinho snatched a late equaliser.
Arturo Lupoli had given Arsenal an early lead but Alain Koudou and Mahamadou Dissa put Beveren in charge at the break.
Ultimately a draw was a fair result. More importantly for Arsenal, it was another useful workout against useful opposition as they prepare for the new campaign.
This summer trip to Beveren has become a pre-season staple since Arsenal set up a technical relationship with the Belgian club.
As ever, Beveren were generous hosts off the pitch. On the pitch it was a different story.
The home side - packed with young talent from the Ivory Coast - were more than a match for their Premiership opponents and had the better of the first half.
Koudou almost caught out Mark Howard in the third minute with a cross which floated just wide of the far post. Seconds later Abdoulaye Djire fired straight at the Arsenal goalkeeper after an effective shimmy or two on the edge of the box. Constant Kipre was next to go close, lifting a shot over the bar when well placed.
Arsenal could be excused for their sluggish start. As expected, Arsene Wenger fielded a youthful side with David Bentley the only survivor from the team which started against Porto on Sunday. Van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, Gael Clichy and Quincy all made their first appearances of the summer and, understandably, they took time to find their rhythm.
The cobwebs were slowly brushed away and, after 15 minutes, Arsenal fashioned their first chance. Quincy raced down the left and cut the ball back for Bentley. His low shot was saved and then spilled by Barry Boubacar, but the 'keeper recovered quickly to deny Van Persie.
That sparked a productive spell for the Gunners and they took the lead after 19 minutes. Van Persie carved open the Beveren defence with a clever pass to Bentley and he squared for Lupoli to tap home. Simple.
You might have expected Arsenal to turn the screw after that but, instead, Beveren bounced back. Kipre's delicious backheel set up Dissa, but he could only lash the ball straight at Howard from close range.
Beveren deserved a goal and they got two in quick succession. Koudou grabbed the equaliser, lifting the ball over Howard and sprinting around the 'keeper to tap into an empty net. Three minutes later Djourou's sloppy pass was collected by Dissa, who lobbed Howard to put Beveren ahead.
Both goals prompted a burst of music from the PA system. This may be a quiet town but it boasts possibly the loudest tannoy in football.
As such only the hardest of hearing would have struggled to hear about Beveren's wholesale half-time changes. The hosts sent out a completely different XI, equally eager to impress. They did just that.
Gerrinho, a quicksilver striker, caught the eye immediately. He caused Djourou problems with his pace and almost sprinted through a few minutes after the break. Djourou did just enough to get back and make a vital covering tackle.
With Beveren on top, Wenger switched things around. Matthew Connolly, Fabrice Muamba and Ryan Smith all came on after an hour, and the latter soon made inroads down the left flank.
One speedy foray ended with Bentley curling a perfect cross into Van Persie's path. The Dutchman found the top corner; the flag cut short his joy.
It was a borderline decision but it didn't take long for Van Persie to make amends with a double strike which turned the game on its head.
Muamba set up the first with a clever flicked pass into Van Persie's path. The young Dutchman finished confidently. He was even more emphatic five minutes later, finding the bottom corner after Emmanuel Eboue's cute through ball.
You had to applaud Van Persie's class but, in truth, defeat would have been harsh on a lively Beveren side. Gerjinho raced through to earn the draw the hosts deserved.
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