Arsenal lay late siege
Eduardo took advantage of his reprieve from a two-match ban to score Arsenal’s winner in an extraordinary fightback on Wednesday as they came from 2-0 down to beat Belgian side Standard Liege 3-2 in their opening Champions League match.sports Updated: Sep 17, 2009 23:52 IST
Eduardo took advantage of his reprieve from a two-match ban to score Arsenal’s winner in an extraordinary fightback on Wednesday as they came from 2-0 down to beat Belgian side Standard Liege 3-2 in their opening Champions League match.
The Brazilian-born Croatian also redeemed himself with his 81st minute winner as he had been responsible for the hosts’ first goal.
Champions Barcelona, the side that beat Arsenal in the 2006 final, dominated Inter Milan but the duel between star strikers Samuel Eto’o — one of the scorers against Arsenal in that final —– and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, now with Barcelona, failed to yield a goal.
Arsenal were without their two first choice ‘keepers plus Robin van Persie but not even in their worst nightmares could they have imagined they would be 2-0 down in the first five minutes.
However, the hosts profited first from a crazy and over elaborate backheel by Eduardo - reprieved earlier this week from a two-match suspension for diving - on the edge of his area and Congolese striker Eliaquim Mangala made no mistake from 20 yards out.
It was veteran defender William Gallas’ turn next to make a mistake as he fouled Milan Jovanovic just inside the area and Jovanovic picked himself up to to convert the penalty.
Arsenal gained some hope of pulling something out of the match when Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner scored right on the brink of half-time for his first goal of the season.
However, two goals in two minutes from Dutchman Thomas Vermaelen and Eduardo turned the game on its head.
Liverpool struggled to break through in the first-half against Hungarian outfit Debrecen but got the goal to lift them near the end of the first-half as Dutchman Dirk Kuyt scored what was to prove the only goal.
Arsenal’s fellow British side Rangers also went behind during the first-half as Stuttgart’s Russian international Pavel Pogbrenyak slotted home from inside the box to give the German strugglers a welcome boost.
However, the Scottish side restored parity in the second-half when Majid Bougherra equalised to grab a valuable away point.
Pogbrenyak’s fellow Russians Rubin Kazan enjoyed a dreamlike start to their first ever campaign in European football’s premier tournament as they took the lead through Alejandro Dominguez against perennial Ukrainian contenders Dynamo Kiev.
Kiev, though, were rampant in the second-half as goals by Ayilla Yussuf, Junior Gerson Magrao and Oleg Gusev secured them the three points with a 3-1 victory.
Another debutant Unirea Urziceni — coached by former Chelsea stalwart Dan Petrescu - fared less well as they went behind to Sevilla, Brazilian star Luis Fabiano netting in the first-half against the surprise Romanian champions and another from Renato secured a 2-0 victory.
Lyon gained the upper hand in the first-half of their match with Fiorentina — a side they put out of the competition last season at the same stage — when World Cup winning striker Alberto Gilardino was sent-off for elbowing French international Jeremy Toulalan.
And the French side franked that with a goal by Bosnian Miralem Pjanic in the second-half for a 1-0 win.