ARSENAL survived a hostile atmosphere and the sending-off of midfielder Aaron Ramsey to leave Istanbul with what could prove a priceless 0-0 draw against Besiktas in the first leg of their Champions League play-off.
The Gunners were stretched by Slaven Bilic’s well-drilled outfit, who almost took the lead right from kick-off at at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium through a long-range effort by former Chelsea striker Demba Ba.
However, the visitors held out and – but for some poor finishing by Olivier Giroud – could came netted an away goal, with substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain seeing his shot touched onto the post in the closing stages.
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Ramsey, who scored a stoppage-time winner against Crystal Palace on the opening day of the Premier League season, was dismissed for a second yellow card with ten minutes left.
It had, however, almost been a nightmare start for the English side.
After the ball was rolled from kick-off, Ba sent an audacious effort looping towards the top corner, which Wojciech Szczesny clawed up onto the crossbar.
The Gunners won 3-0 across the Bosphorus against Fenerbahce at the same stage the Champions League play-off last year and, after weathering the early onslaught, began to take a spell of possession.
Besiktas should have scored just before halftime.
A long ball down the left was missed by Calum Chambers, the teenager signed from Southampton who had been playing very well, and Ba skipped clear towards the penalty area.
However, the ex-Newxastle striker dragged his low shot wide of the left post.
Arsenal were reduced to ten men on 80 minutes after Ramsey collected a second yellow card for pulling back Oguzhan Ozyakup.