Demba Ba, right, nearly had Besiktas off to a flying start against Arsenal in the Champions League play-in round.
Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images
By The SI Staff
August 19, 2014

By virtue of finishing in fourth place in the Premier League last season, Arsenal has to qualify for the Champions League group stage through the play-in round, and the Gunners nearly found themselves having to claw from behind in the opening seconds in stunning fashion.

Off the opening kick of Besiktas and Arsenal's play-in series first leg, Demba Ba launched a shot from midfield attempting to catch goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny off guard and very nearly succeeded. The Polish keeper retreated in time to leap and cover the place below the crossbar had Ba's effort snuck under, but it pinged off the upper 90 corner, keeping the teams on level pegging.

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While Ba failed to convert on a couple of other great chances (albeit from closer range), Arsenal had troubles of its own – not to mention having Aaron Ramsey sent off for his second yellow in the 80th minute and be suspended for the return leg – as both teams struggled to a 0-0 draw in Turkey.

Arsenal will host next week's return leg, knowing that any road goal from Besiktas will make qualification for a 17th straight Champions League group stage all that more difficult. And the Gunners will be sure to be alert off the opening whistle.

Watch Ba's audacious effort, which nearly turned the series on its head, below:

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