|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Arsenal spoil Vieira's return party
March 29, 2006 02:57 IST
Last Updated: March 29, 2006 10:03 IST
Champions League quarter-finals (first leg)
Goals by Cesc Fabregas and Thierry Henry gave Arsenal an impressive 2-0 home victory over Juventus in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday as the Italians finished with nine men.
Spanish teenager Fabregas gave Arsenal a 40th minute lead off Henry's pass and returned the favour by setting up the skipper to score against his old club in the 69th minute.
It was a miserable return to Highbury for Juventus's former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira, who was robbed in the build-up to the opening goal and whose yellow card will rule him out next week's return leg in Turin.
Mauro Camoranesi and Jonathan Zebina will also miss out after picking up red cards in the closing minutes of a game that left Arsenal in sight of their first appearance in the semi-finals.
Arsene Wenger's side, who knocked out Real Madrid in the last round, were convincing winners and will feel their moment for a serious tilt at the trophy has finally come.
"It was everything you wanted," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told ITV. "We played very well defensively, played the football we wanted to play, scored two good goals and didn't concede.
"We still have a lot to do but its a good start."
After a tight first 30 minutes, Arsenal gradually took the upper hand in terms of possession but failed to make it count with their final pass.
The move for the opening goal began when Robert Pires robbed Vieira of possession with a rare tackle and fed the ball to the Arsenal skipper. Henry's threaded pass allowed Fabregas to swivel and fire past a static Gianluigi Buffon from the edge of the area.
Henry very nearly added a second soon after when he broke through down the left side but his angled shot across the goal stayed wide of the far post.
He went close again after the break when a cushioned shot was smartly turned round for a corner by Buffon.
Further chances inside the area went begging for Fabregas and Alexander Hleb as Arsenal drove forward, before Henry's luck finally came good in the 69th minute.
Arsenal's umpteenth attack of the night put Fabregas through and, with Buffon at his mercy, the midfielder unselfishly squared the ball for the French striker to score into an empty net.
Juventus, well on course to retain their Italian league title, barely mustered a shot all night and fell apart in the last five minutes with the two red cards and some wild tackles.
As in their 1-0 first leg win over Real Madrid, Arsenal should have had more goals and Wenger will hope to avoid a repeat of the nervy return against the Spaniards when his side held on desperately at the end of the goalless return leg.
"That's the regret we had tonight as I think one more goal was in the game tonight," he said.
"They missed (Alessandro) De Piero and (Pavel) Nedved who can come back but I'm confident we can do well."
Henry added: "We did what we had to do at home, didn't concede a goal, that was vital, but it will be difficult."
UEFA Champions League 2005-06: The Complete Coverage