Arsenal outclass Celtic in Emirates encounter

by Niall Farrell

Sports News - February 17, 2009

Celtic will have to look forward to playing in the Europa League this year as Arsenal knocked them out with a comprehensive 3-1 victory at the Emirates stadium, to give the Londoners a 5-1 aggregate victory.

Nearly 60,000 fans turned out to see what was always going to be an uphill struggle for Celtic after they lost 2-0 at home. Rain belted down as Arsenal comfortably stroked the ball about in their own half. Massimo Donati and Scott McDonald worked hard to win the ball for Celtic, but the midfield of Diaby, Song, Denilson and Eboue did not give away much possesion.

Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy were very effective, making darting runs from full-back and crossing dangerously into the Celtic penalty area. Celtic did manage to mount a few attacks, with Shaun Maloney causing a bit of trouble on the left wing, but Tom Vermaelen was on excellent form to deny the Glaswegians.

In the 26th minute the Arsenal midfield was able to string a number of passes together to release Eduardo on goal. Artur Boruc came rushing out and dived to claim the ball. Eduardo went to the ground, although replays show that there was little or no contact. The penalty was given, much to Boruc’s consternation, and Eduardo duly converted to give Arsenal a 1–0 lead.

Stephen Caldwell was yellow carded for hauling down Emmanuel Eboue, but minutes later Celtic had a potential equaliser disallowed as Scott McDonald scored an obviously offside goal.

Celtic came out after half-time having substituted Stephen Caldwell for Darren O’Dea. Aiden McGeady; who was largely anonymous in the first half, made a few dangerous runs around the Arsenal box, but nothing came of them.

Arsenal began to assert themselves, playing their trademark style of fluid passing football. In the 52nd minute a quick break down the left saw Nicklas Bendtner expertly backheel the ball to Abou Diaby, who then set up Eboue to make it 2-0.

The match was effectively finished by the time Artur Boruc picked the ball out of his net for the second time, but Arsenal continued to attack. Celtic substituted Lee Naylor and Willo Flood for Aiden McGeady and Shaun Maloney at the hour mark and Arsenal brought in Aaron Ramsey for Abou Diaby. After 71 minutes Arsenal brought on Jack Wilshere for goalscorer Eboue and Andrei Arshavin for the other goalscorer Eduardo.

Minutes later Arshavin capped a beautiful move started by Denilson which involved a fluent exchange with Aaron Ramsey by turning and sending Boruc the wrong way to make it 3-0. This was the fifteenth goal in four games for Arsenal.

Arsenal finished the match with 10 men as Aaron Ramsey went off injured and Celtic scored a consolation in the dying seconds as Massimo Donati finished well from an Andreas Hinkel long ball – just the third goal Arsenal have conceded this season.

Arsenal will now go on with supreme confidence to the group stages of the Champion’s League, which will be drawn tomorrow.

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