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Awesome Arsenal demolish Slavia
October 24, 2007 10:01 IST
Arsenal demolished Slavia Prague 7-0 in Champions League Group H on Wednesday with one of the most brilliant displays of attacking football since the Champions League began 15 years ago.
The English league leaders were breathtaking to watch at times, especially in a 13-minute spell just after halftime when they scored three times to double their lead from 3-0 to 6-0 with less than an hour played.
Two goals from Cesc Febregas, two from Theo Walcott, one from Alexandr Hleb, an own goal and a late tap in from substitute Nicklas Bendtner secured Arsenal their 12th successive win in all competitions and their third successive win in the group.
"We wanted three points and to play well but you can't predict that," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. "Everything went for us."
It was Arsenal's biggest win in the Champions League and equals their biggest ever European win, a 7-0 win over Standard Liege in the old European Cup Winners' Cup in 1993. It was the perfect birthday present for manager Arsene Wenger who was 58 on Monday.
They crushed Slavia with such style, pace, panache and lethal finishing it is hard to see them failing to advance from the group which they lead with nine points.
Three of their goals, including the pick of the night from Hleb, and a stunning sweeping move that saw Fabregas net his second of the game, came at the start of the second half.
Arsenal either scored or threatened to do so with almost every attack and on the rare occasions Slavia threatened goalkeeper Manuel Almunia was never seriously troubled.
Arsenal took a firm grip on the game after only five minutes when Fabregas scored with a brilliantly executed curling right-footed shot from 12 metres out for his eighth goal of the season and his fourth in this competition including the qualifying round.
Fabregas and Matthieu Flamini, who have been outstanding in Arsenal's midfield all season, were far too quick and inventive for the Czechs and the home side only had to wait another 19 minutes to double their lead.
Slavia failed to clear a 24th minute corner from Fabregas and the ball eventually bounced out to Hleb whose goalbound shot was sent flying past goalkeeper Martin Vaniak after defender David Hubacek conceded an own goal with a sliced clearance.
Arsenal put the issue beyond doubt when Slavia made another terrible defensive error four minutes before the break. Daniel Pudil played a long back-pass almost from the halfway line to Vaniak whose weak clearance went straight to Walcott.
The 18-year-old skipped past the keeper's ineffective challenge to reclaim the ball and fired into the empty net for only the second goal of his fledgling Arsenal career.
After Hleb made it 4-0 in the 51st minute, Walcott scored again to make it 5-0 four minutes later before Fabregas struck with a goal that involved Hleb, Emmanuel Adebayor and Walcott in the build-up.
Bendtner made it 7-0 a minute from time, but Arsenal's win could have been even greater as Czech substitute Tomas Rosicky hit the bar.
Still, there were no complaints from the home crowd, and the large contingent of away fans won the respect of their hosts by cheering their team on when all was lost.
UEFA Champions League 2007-08: The Complete Coverage