Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gunners news : Arsenal 5 vs 1 Shakhtar Shakhtar

Arsenal comfortably assumed top spot in Group H after a thumping win over Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk.

Though both teams going into the game tied at the top of the group, there was a clear gulf in quality as Arsenal took the lead in comical circumstances after goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov let slip a simple catch to allow Alexandre Song to touch the ball over the line. Samir Nasri added a second prior to the break after plucking the ball out of the air and swivelling to fire past Pyatov.

Cesc Fabregas converted a penalty to extend the gap with over half an hour remaining before Jack Wilshere chipped in for his first Champions League goal and Marouane Chamakh slotted home from close range.

Erstwhile Gunner Eduardo da Silva added some respect to the scoreline after slotting in a late consolation goal, earning the Croatian a standing ovation from his former supporters.

Arsene Wenger handed a start to captain Fabregas, returning after a month's absence with a hamstring injury to dislodge Abou Diaby, while Tomas Rosicky replaced Andrei Arshavin in attack with Theo Walcott also named in the squad.

For the visitors, former Gunner Eduardo da Silva started from the bench where he was joined by erstwhile Barcelona defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy.

A tepid start saw neither keeper called into making a save in the opening 15 minutes as Arsenal kept the ball with customary slickness on a soaked surface, and Shakhtar stopper Pyatov will no doubt be citing the slippery conditions after his fumble gifted the home side the lead.

An outswinging Nasri corner was dropped with the loose ball falling to the feet of Song, who bundled the ball over the line despite the efforts of defender Olexsander Kucher to block the ball on the line.

That gift of a goal injected life into a game that had hitherto been quiet, with Pyatov forced to make an adept save as Nasri volleyed from outside the box after a neat nod down from Chamakh.

The Ukrainians struggled to get into the tie despite frustrating Arsenal, who retained possession with ease if not incision, epitomised as Jack Wilshere played a clever give and go with Fabregas only to run into a white shirt on the edge of the area.

When the visitors did move forward it was usually via a surging run from captain Darijo Srna, and it was the Croatian's ability from dead ball situations that saw Lukasz Fabianski tested for the first time as the Pole was forced out of goal to batter away a corner.

Not soon after that, however, Srna's defensive frailties were exposed as the right-back badly misjudged the flight of Song's cross, which was expertly met by the outstretched right leg of Nasri, before the Frenchman readjusted his shape and toepoked the ball past Pyatov.

It was the final chance of an almost effortless first half in which the champions of Ukraine put up little fight against an Arsenal side that scarcely had to step out of first gear to find themselves two goals up going into the break, keeping their imperious European home form intact with little energy expended.

Shakhtar boss Mircea Lucescu reshuffled his desperately underperforming pack prior to the restart by replacing the disappointing Brazilian midfielder Willian with compatriot Douglas Costa.

It didn't take long for evidence of a half-time hammering to surface as the visitors saw their first proper chance of the game when Luiz Adriano latched onto a Henrik Mkhitaryan through ball and twisted beyond Johan Djourou before unleashing a left-footed strike that forced a bold save from Fabianski.

Substitute Costa then pressured Rosicky into conceding possession and drew a foul from the Czech international, but Srna's cross from a dangerous area was well met by a the sea of red shirts.

The sudden burst of activity from the away side, who began to press the ball with purpose for the first time in the game, had the home support frustrated as Arsenal struggled to push forward in the early stages of the second half.

But the Gunners were soon exerting their quality on the game with some clever forward play that had to be stopped by a blatant Tomas Hubschmann foul that saw the Czech midfielder earn a yellow, from that free-kick Adriano was to give away a penalty after hauling Djourou to the ground.

Captain Fabregas stepped up to convert from the spot and seal the three points with over half an hour remaining.

The 23-year-old midfielder, comfortable as ever, was swiftly replaced by Denilson. At the same time, ex-Gunner Eduardo - whose time in North London will always be remembered for the horrific injury sustained in his first season in the Premier League - entered the fray to a warm reception Luiz Adriano to a warm welcome.

Moments later Arsenal's newest star, Wilshere, brushed aside controversy over his Premier League sending off by notching his first European goal after rounding off a swift team move, which saw a one-two with Rosicky and a slick flick from Chamakh, by dinking the ball over Pyatov.

Moroccan striker Chamakh, involved in several of his side's goals, then slotted home arguably the easiest chance he's likely to have this season after defying the offside trap to convert Nasri's lofted ball.

The former Bordeaux man was himself replaced just seconds after scoring, with Walcott making his first appearance since being stretchered off in England's victory over Switzerland in September, and Nasri also earned a break after an efficient display as Wenger introduced Arshavin.

It was another substitute who found himself on the scoresheet though with little under 10 minutes remaining, and though it was a Shakhtar goal, the Emirates rose to applaud scorer Eduardo who volleyed home a hopeful Jadson cross.

The generous response summed up the exhibition atmosphere that the game had dipped into as both sides saw out the game as if it were a pre-season friendly, with Costa weaving and seeing a long range effort dip narrowly wide and Denilson nearly netting from an audacious distance as Pyatov raced off his line.



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