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Schalke battle back for draw

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Reuters

Schalke's Marco Hoeger tackles Arsenal's Lukas Podolski (right) during their Champions League Group B soccer match in Gelsenkirchen on Tuesday.

Gelsenkirchen - Schalke 04 bravely battled back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with visitors Arsenal on Tuesday thanks to goals from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Jefferson Farfan to maintain their slim lead in their Champions League Group B.

First half goals from Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud seemed to be meting out immediate justice for Arsenal's 2-0 defeat by the Germans in London a fortnight ago.

Schalke however, devoured their lead with Dutchman Huntelaar cutting the deficit in first half stoppage time and Peruvian Farfan completing their comeback with deflected shot midway through the second half.

The result leaves the group wide open with Schalke in the lead on eight points and Arsenal a point behind in second place. Olympiakos beat Montpellier 3-1 to increase their tally to six points.

Arsenal, who have dropped to sixth in the Premier League after Saturday's defeat to Manchester United, had Jack Wilshere back in the team as he continued his return from a long lay-off.

Coach Arsene Wenger also included Walcott, who was doubtful after missing training this week due to illness.

Andre Santos, heavily criticised for asking United striker Robin Van Persie for his shirt as a souvenir at halftime, was left out.

Schalke, who beat Arsenal 2-0 to snap their 45-game unbeaten run at home to foreign visitors stretching back to 2003, had them on the backfoot from the start.

The hosts came close with a shot from Christian Fuchs and another from Ibrahim Afellay that forced keeper Vito Mannone to a good save.

Arsenal, displaying an initial lack of confidence when they had possession, needed 17 minutes to find their way into the game and they did it with a bang.

Giroud took advantage of a Roman Neutstaedter back header to race clear but failed to beat keeper Unnerstall with Walcott slipping through to tap in from close range.

The 26-year-old Frenchman made amends for his earlier miss, drilling in a diving header from a Lukas Podolski cross.

Dutch striker Huntelaar, who was on target on all three previous group matches, fired Schalke back into the reckoning on the stroke of halftime.

The forward, nicknamed “the hunter”, however, will be kicking himself for not equalising six minutes after the restart when, with only Manonne to beat, he fired on to the charging keeper as Schalke again poured forward.

Holtby took a chance from 22 metres out but his slightly deflected shot was punched away by Mannone.

Jefferson Farfan turned the game on its head, drilling in the equaliser in the 67th with Thomas Vermaelen deflecting it into the net. - Reuters


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