Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Changing of the Guard

In recent years, Arsenal have been an indomitable force on their travels to Milan's San Siro stadium. In 2003, they rebounded from a 3-0 home defeat courtesy of Obafemi Martins and Internazionale to win 5-1 in Italy. Now they have the second scalp to complete their Milanese footballing collection.
The Gunners dominated the Rossoneri for huge swaths of the 1st half, but were unfortunate to return to the dressing room without recording a tally, after enigmatic midfielder Cesc Fabregas pounded the bar from the edge of the area. Likewise, Hleb was unfortunate to be booked for diving after being clearly taken down just inside the penalty area.
The second half picked up largely from where the first half ended - with lots of hat if Arsenal continued to press but fail to score, then Milan would bite them and bite them hard. So, as if answering the pleas emanating from Islington and beyond, Fabregas came up with the goods, beating 6-7 Australian Zeljko Kalac to the bottom-right from 30 yards out. The always fervent atmosphere of the San Siro became ever the more poignant, with the Gooner faithful singing the famous "1-Nil to the Arsenal."
Yet that jingle soon became outdated, as substitute Theo Walcott broke down the right-hand wing, skipping past the challenge of Khaka Khaladze to thread a pass along the 6-yard line to Emmanuel Adebayor who, in thumping an emphatic finish into the roof of the net, broke his Champions League duck.
The youthful Arsenal had done away with the reigning European Champions, but, strange though it may sound, it was so much more than that. The Gunners had struggled of late, being run off the field against Man Utd in the FA Cup and struggling to a draw for the second successive week, not to mention Eduardo leaving the field in 3 pieces against Birmingham City.
2 years ago, Arsenal went desperately close against Barcelona in the Champions League Final. But on 21st May, could Arsenal make history in Moscow?

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