Tag: Lukas Podolski

Champions League: Galatasaray 1-4 Arsenal

Arsenal ease to victory over Galatasaray as Ramsey nets stunner

Arsenal produced the perfect response to silence their critics with a 4-1 Champions League win over Galatasaray in Istanbul, where Aaron Ramsey scored one of the goals of the season.

Arsene Wenger had come in for abuse from the London club’s own supporters in the aftermath of Saturday’s disappointing 3-2 defeat at Stoke, which left them sixth in the Premier League.

However, there was no European hangover as despite leaving several key players such as Alexis Sanchez back in London, the Gunners, who had already qualified for the knockout stages, romped to a comfortable victory, but still had to settle for runners-up spot in Group D behind Borussia Dortmund.

Arsenal had raced into the lead after just two minutes when Lukas Podolski crashed the ball into the top left corner.

Galatasaray defender Hakan Balta missed a great chance to equalise when he stabbed the ball wide from six yards.

Ramsey made it 2-0 on 11 minutes with a neat finish after a quick break from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Podolski lashed another fierce shot against the crossbar, before Ramsey netted a superb half-volley from all of 30 yards which was applauded by the home supporters.

The second half was a much-more subdued affair, with Arsenal looking to counter after soaking up plenty of pressure with Per Mertesacker blocking a goal-bound shot from Umut Bulut on 65 minutes before Wesley Sneijder clipped home a late 20-yard free-kick.

Podolski grabbed a fourth on the break deep into stoppage time.

Arsenal will now regroup ahead of the knockout stages in mid-February, by which time Wenger could well have several of his injured stars fighting fit again to take on Europe’s best.

Arsenal full-back Mathieu Debuchy returned following three months out, while Wenger named a bench with an average age of just over 18, handing an opportunity to fringe players such as Podolksi, Yaya Sanogo and Joel Campbell.

 

It took German forward Podolski some 122 seconds to prove his point, as he lashed an angled drive the ball past Sinan Bolat from just inside the penalty area.

Galatasaray, who sacked Cesare Prandelli following four successive Champions League defeats, looked to quickly respond, the fans who had bothered to turn out at the Turk Telekom Arena did their best to lift the home side.

Hakan Balta dragged his shot wide from six yards after a corner was not properly cleared, and Arsenal then doubled their lead on 11 minutes.

Tarik Camdal looked to have been tripped by a back-tracking Podolski, but Spanish refree David Borbalan waved play on.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was onto the loose ball in a flash, driving forwards to the edge of the Galatasaray area before slipping in Ramsey, who stroked in a low finish to the far corner.

Podolski was inches away from cracking in a third when another fierce left-foot effort cannoned off the top of the crossbar after more good work from the busy Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Arsenal continued to look dangerous on the break, with Ramsey, Sanogo and Campbell all failing to find a killer touch in the box, before Bolat turned a drive from Podolski behind.

The Galatasaray keeper, however, could do little to prevent a third Arsenal goal on 29 minutes when Ramsey lashed the ball into the top right of the net after a corner was headed clear.

With the match already over as a contest, to their credit the hosts looked to press again.

Umut Bulut glanced a header wide, before at the other end Campbell skipped clear and his angled shot was touched across the face of goal by the keeper.

Wenger decided to give the youngsters a taste of Champions League football for the second half.

German 17-year-old Gedion Zelalem replaced Mathieu Flamini, and teenager Ainsley Maitland-Niles came on for Ramsey.

The tempo of the match dropped, with Arsenal content to soak up plenty of pressure and look to counter.

On 65 minutes, stand-in Arsenal captain Mertesacker – castigated by pundit Jamie Carragher for ‘abandoning ship’ in the defeat at Stoke – produced a brave block to throw his body in the way of Bulut’s close-range effort.

Galatasaray had a consolation with two minutes left when Dutchman Sneijder whipped a free-kick up over the wall into the top-left corner, but there was still time for Podolski to slot in a fourth for Arsenal on the break with what was the last kick of the match.

Arsenal, who blew a 3-0 lead at home to Anderlecht on matchday four, will now await their last 16 opponents in the draw – when the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris St Germain and defending champions Bayern Munich could all yet come out of the top seed pot.

Read more at ESPN

Champions League: Anderlecht 1-2 Arsenal

Arsene Wenger celebrated his 65th birthday with a vital Champions League win as Arsenal scored twice in the final two minutes to beat Anderlecht.

After a dire first half, the Belgian champions looked set to ruin Wenger’s day when Honduras winger Andy Najar headed in Dennis Praet’s cross.

But left-back Kieran Gibbs’s volley at the far post brought the Gunners level.

The Gunners’ remarkable fightback leaves them with six points at the halfway stage of Group D, with German side Borussia Dortmund leading the way with a perfect record of three wins.

Anderlecht’s late capitulation – which means they have not won in their last 11 Champions League ties – leaves them five points adrift of Wenger’s team ahead of next month’s return fixture at Emirates Stadium.

And Lukas Podolski smashed in the winner from close range as Arsenal maintained their grip on second place.

Arsenal knew that victories in their back-to-back matches against the Belgians would put them on the verge of the Champions League knockout phase for the 12th consecutive season.

But they looked to be facing an uphill task to reach the last 16 after Najar’s goal moved the home side close to their first win against English opposition since beating Manchester United in October 2000.

And the Gunners were fortunate not to fall further behind as a young Anderlecht side threatened to add to their tally.

Ex-Portsmouth defender Anthony Vanden Borre scuffed against the Arsenal post before goalscorer Najar smashed the rebound into the side-netting.

Wenger was forced into giving third-choice keeper Emiliano Martinez his Champions League debut in the absence of Wojciech Szczesny (suspension) and David Ospina (injury).

But the Argentine was barely called into action until the closing stages when he twice stopped Anderlecht doubling their lead.

Chile winger Alexis Sanchez provided Arsenal’s greatest threat in the first half, when neither side managed a shot on target, and continued to pose problems after the break with his pace and movement.

The £35m summer signing from Barcelona escaped his marker to meet Santi Cazorla’s curling free-kick with a flick which home keeper Silvio Proto pushed clear with a reaction save.

Read more on BBC Sport