Thursday, August 14, 2008

Arsenal Gun Down McLaren's Army

Second-half goals from William Gallas and Emmanuel Adebayor secured Arsenal a 2-0 Champions League third qualifying round first leg victory over Dutch side Twente.

Gallas bundled the ball home from close range after 63 minutes and Adebayor effectively killed off the hopes of former England manager Steve McClaren's new side ahead of the second leg with another strike eight minutes from full-time.

The Gunners were far from at their fluent best as a much-changed and youthful line-up struggled for long spells of a low-key match in Twente's temporary home in Arnhem.

Cesc Fabregas, Kolo Toure, Abou Diaby, Tomas Rosicky, Philippe Senderos, Eduardo da Silva and Samri Nasri were all ruled out through injury, so Arsene Wenger was forced to hand a hurried debut to £5million summer signing Aaron Ramsey in midfield.

Two teenagers started the game, while there were a further four on the bench and Arsenal's inexperience showed at the start as they struggled to impose themselves.

Romano Denneboom should have given Twente a 25th minute lead but he snatched at a 15-yard shot after coasting past Denilson and Gael Clichy with ease and his shot drifted well off target.

Marko Arnautovic was next to miss a clear opportunity as he was played in one-on-one with Manuel Almunia but stumbled at the vital moment and allowed the keeper to block his hurried effort.

Arsenal gradually found their feet and should have broken the deadlock on 39 minutes when Bacary Sagna could only find the side-netting from close range after the keeper had spilled a thunderous shot from Clichy.

However, they were ahead just after the hour-mark in scrappy fashion as Gallas bundled the ball over the line with his body after the Twente defence had allowed a poor Robin van Persie free-kick to bounce inside their six-yard box.

That moment of fortune seemed to demoralise the home players and Arsenal doubled their advantage 20 minutes later in more clinical fashion.

Adebayor turned onto a long ball over the top and then had the simplest of chances to score as he latched on to a return pass from Walcott and swept home with eight minutes remaining.

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