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Arsenal back on track as Porto suffer the backlash

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 30 Sep 2008


Arsenal produced the perfect response after their Hull humiliation as Arsene Wenger's side routed Porto 4-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The Gunners were able to erase the bitter memory of their worst result for years thanks to an impressive display against the Portuguese champions at the Emirates Stadium.

Just four days earlier, Wenger had pounded the turf in frustration as Premier League newcomers Hull outfought his team, but this time the Arsenal manager was all smiles as Porto suffered the backlash.

Dutch striker Robin van Persie opened the scoring and Emmanuel Adebayor added the second before half-time to put Arsenal on course for their first Group G victory.

Van Persie made it three soon after the interval before Togo forward Adebayor stroked home a penalty to complete the rout.

Wenger knows Arsenal's ability has never been in doubt. Now he will demand they show this kind of desire every week rather than just on the big occasions.

“It is the response I wanted. Maybe it was our most complete performance this season,” Wenger said. “We could have scored a few more but most important was to win and respond in a convincing way.

“I didn't make many changes because I didn't want to give a feeling that you punish one player more than another. Sometimes you have to give a team a chance to respond quickly.

“We were sometimes a bit tense, especially at the start, but this time we were focused. At this level in the Premier League or Champions League that is vital.

“That's what we expected. But the first half of the response was here and the second half is on Saturday.”

If Wenger needed any reassurance that Arsenal would get back on track, he could take heart from Porto's failure to win any of their previous 11 visits to England.

After accusing his players of under-estimating Hull, Wenger was looking for a reaction and there was a noticeable fizz about Arsenal in the early stages.

Van Persie almost gave them the perfect start with a curling effort that had Porto keeper Helton at full stretch.

But it was Arsenal's defence which let them down most against Hull and there was another sign of their frailty when Cristian Rodriguez found space to direct a diving header onto the crossbar.

Cesc Fabregas's sublime lofted pass dissected the Porto rearguard moments later, but van Persie couldn't find enough accuracy with his volley to beat Helton.

Porto were content to sit back and launch occasional counter-attacks. From one raid Lisandro forced Manuel Almunia to make a superb save.

Lisandro went even closer from the resulting set-piece as the Argentine forward beat Alumunia, only for Gael Clichy to clear off the line.

Arsenal took full advantage of that reprieve to open the scoring in the 31st minute.

Adebayor beat Porto's offside trap to collect an astute pass from Fabregas and the Togo striker crossed low for van Persie, timing his run perfectly, to convert at the near post.

Wenger's side were moving smoothly into top gear now and Van Persie turned provider for their second goal in the 40th minute.

Adebayor showed the desire Wenger had demanded as he rose highest to head van Persie's corner past Helton via the crossbar.

If Arsenal were less than convincing in defence that was nothing compared to Porto. Jesualdo Ferrerira's side were a shambles at the back and it was no surprise when a calamitous attempt to clear ended with another Arsenal goal in the 48th minute.

Theo Walcott was gifted the ball and his flick found van Persie, who punished Porto's statuesque defending with a low shot into the far corner.

Walcott should have made it four but he somehow prodded Kolo Toure's cross wide from five yards.

The Gunners were running riot and Adebayor got his second from the penalty spot in the 71st minute after Freddy Guarin up-ended Nicklas Bendtner with a clumsy challenge.


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