Arsenal blasted two beautiful goals late in the second-half, as they were able stage a come-from-behind victory against nemesis Barcelona. Barcelona knocked Arsenal out of the Champions League last season, so the Gunners were definitely bitter. The game started off with a very fast pace, which left lots of space throughout the midfield. Both teams had a share of their opportunities early. The so call “best team” in the world, Barcelona notched a goal midway through the first-half, when Lionel Messi delivered a through-ball which set up David Villa for the opener. Barcelona then began to dominate possession as the first-half progressed, perfecting free-flow soccer. Arsenal was very fortunate not to be down two at the half, as Messi failed to convert on a breakaway earlier in the match. In the second-half however, Arsenal upped pressure. Their midfield was more active, making life difficult for Barcelona’s midfielders. Barcelona looked like any ordinary team in the second-half. It was as if Arsenal wanted it more. Then in the 78th minute, lightning struck. Defender, Gael Clichy served a beautiful lob down the left channel of the eighteen, as Robin Van Persie finished it with a blistering shot that virtually had no angle. Barcelona keeper Valdes was caught cheating, assuming Van Persie was going to cross the ball. None the less, it was a magnificent strike from Van Persie. Five minutes later, Arsenal executed a counter-attacked brilliantly as Samir Narsi exploded down the right side-line, and then picked out Andrei Arshavin at the edge of the penalty-box, who curled in the game-winner. It was one hell of a comeback for Arsenal; this victory now gives them a great opportunity to advance into the next stage. If Arsenal can somehow pull off a win at the Camp Nou, then I really think these young guys have a shot of taking home the trophy. They have been playing great soccer all season, and Van Persie is at top form. This was one of the few times I’ve seen Barcelona look rattled under pressure. Hats off to the Gunners with that shocking comeback.
Man of the Match: Jack Wilshere, Arsenal, Midfielder
I am at awe over this kid’s performance. The 19-year-old looked more like a seasoned veteran. He had excellent possession in the midfield and was able to control the ball during many pressured situations. His first touch was outstanding as he rarely gave away the ball. Jack’s passing impressed me the most. He was able to pick out the perfect pass when he was being swarmed by 2 or 3 players at a time. Those were the plays I was expecting out of Xavi or Iniesta. His open-field tackling was also impressive. This young man is going to be a star in the future.
Final: Arsenal 2-1 Barcelona
Photo courtesy of Yahoo Sports!