Standard Liege 2-3 Arsenal: Eduardo Da Silva Robs Les Rouges

Arsenal The Gunners grabbed a huge slice of luck to take three points in Belgium.

Despite an uninspiring performance, Arsenal defeatedStandard Liege in the first Champions League game in Group H.

The Gunners were shell shocked by two early goals from Liege and never really recovered in terms of performance. Arsenal were unusually wasteful in possession throughout the game and struggled to make an impact offensively.

For their part, Liege looked good for their two goal lead going into half-time but Nicklas Bendtner scored at a crucial time for Arsenal, pulling a goal back in the 45th minute.

Liege defended valiantly and expended a lot of energy in closing Arsenal down, so it wasn’t surprising to see Arsenal claw their way back into the game in the closing stages. Even though they enjoyed good fortune in doing so.

Liege took an early lead, scoring in the second minute of the game, Alex Song gave away a needless corner following poor communication from ‘keeper Vito Mannone. Arsenal cleared easily from the corner but Eduardo tried an intricate back heel on the edge of the box and gave away possession. 

The ball fell to centre-back Ellaquim Managala who did well to hold off Tomas Vermaelen and smashed the ball into the bottom right-hand corner from 18 yards. 

Unbelievably, Liege were two goals up with five minutes on the clock. Emmanuel Eboue gave away the ball in midfield and Arsenal were exposed on the counter, with Milan Jovanovic driving at William Gallas. The Serbian striker entered the penalty area and was met by a clumsy swipe by Gallas who brought down Jovanovic.

The referee swiftly pointed to the penalty spot and Jovanovic stepped up to dispatch the ball cooly into the left-hand side of the net. Mannone dived the wrong way, having been given the eyes by the Serbian – who is currently top scorer in the Belgian league.

Arsenal were visibly shaken by their woeful start as they struggled to string any kind of meaningful possession together. Unusually, they lost the ball frequently and their passing was poor.

The Gunners showed signs of recovering 20minutes into the contest. Following an extended period of possession, Thomas Rosicky slotted Eduardo into the channel on the left, and Croatian controlled well and looked to cut the ball back into the box. However he tracked well by his marker and his cross was blocked.

Standard Liege, in stark contrast, were playing some excellent football in brief spells. An exchange of short-range passes in midfield allowed Les Rouches to release Jovanovic in space on the left. The Serbian was closed down quickly by Gallas and surrendered possession cheaply.

Liege seemed increasingly happy to defend their lead going into half-time. Consequently, Arsenal enjoyed more possession without creating any real goal threat. Les Rouches 

Arsenal pulled a goal back just before half-time, Abou Diaby ran at the defence from deep and threaded the ball through to Nicklas Bendtner into the right-hand side of the box. The Dane latched onto the pass and finished with a strike into the far corner.

The second half saw Standard Liege almost immediately extend their lead, Alex Song gave the ball away and Les Rouches sprung on the counter again. The Belgian side worked the ball well and Gael Clichy did well to scamper across and block as Deludonne Mbokani shaped to shoot.

A wonderful piece of play from Arsenal saw Rosicky play perfect long ball forward for Bendtner, who controlled superbly. The Danish international advanced into the box and was about to shoot as Managala launched into a last ditch tackle to poke the ball away from Bendtner.

Liege continued to threaten down the left with Wilfried Dalmat proving to be a constant threat. The wideman found space on the right behind Clichy and played the ball low across the penalty area. Eboue was forced into a stretching clearance as Mbokani lurked at the back post.

Arsenal failed to seize on their early momentum in the second half and became increasingly slack in their play as the game progressed. Liege continued to frustrate the Gunners with their physical style of football.

Hoping to freshen up the midfield, Wenger withdrew Rosicky in the 70th minute and brought on Aaron Ramsey. The Welshman was involved immediately, winning back possession and striking the ball from distance. His shot shot was on target but didn’t trouble the goalkeeper.

Arsenal drew level with a bizarre goal, Eduardo was fouled on the left flank and Fabregas swung the ball into the penalty area. Song found himself alone at the back post as he clearly controlled with his left arm. 

The Cameroon international then prodded the ball across the goal line to Vermaelen who tapped the ball into the net to score on his Champions League debut for the Gunners.

The visitors were nearly ahead moments later as Fabregas combined with Eduardo in the penalty area. The Croatian received the ball in the left-hand side of the box and fired goal wards to produce an excellent save from Sinan Bolat.

Arsenal took the lead in the 81st minute and Eduardo was involved again. A corner was swung into the box from the left-hand side and the Croatian diverted the ball goal wards with his left knee. The ‘keeper had no chance and Arsenal looked to have secured the win.

The Gunners were able to keep possession comfortably, and closed the game out with ease. Looking increasingly solid in the final minutes of the game.

The victory sends Arsenal to the top of Group H, level on points with Olympiakos FC who defeated AZ Alkmaar tonight.

Goal

~ by footballdirecta on September 17, 2009.

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