Thursday, September 16, 2010

Arsenal hit six to demolish Braga

- Braga humilhado - 6-0 - Já estavam a merecer um toque de realidade - Foi bem dado -

Arsenal got their bid for a first Champions League triumph off to the perfect start at the Emirates with a dismantling of Portuguese side Braga.

The Gunners took seven minutes to go ahead, Cesc Fabregas scoring from the spot after a foul on Marouane Chamakh.

Andrey Arshavin slammed in Fabregas's sublime pass, before Jack Wilshere superbly set up Chamakh to drill home.

Fabregas headed in to make it 4-0 and Carlos Vela dinked in a fifth before he stroked home another to wrap things up.

It was a display that epitomised everything boss Arsene Wenger holds dear as his Gunners team tore the Champions League debutants apart.

Arsenal brought their usual magnetic passing game to the European curtain-raiser, but they seemed to raise their level a notch above the norm with some fabulous interchanges that saw Braga spend most of the evening chasing shadows.

Wenger's side are chasing an 11th successive place in the last 16 of the competition and in a group also containing Shakhtar Donetsk and Partizan Belgrade there is little to suggest they will fail to make it beyond the group stage.

In front of an expectant Emirates Stadium crowd Arsenal were immediately into their stride and Braga, making their debut in the competition, looked overawed as a Fabregas-inspired Gunners swarmed all over them.

The Spaniard had a penalty appeal rejected after only three minutes and soon after it was from his pass that Braga keeper Felipe brought down Chamakh, Fabregas stepping up to slot home for his first goal of the season.
Carlos Vela scores for Arsenal
Vela lifts the ball over Felipe for Arsenal's fifth

The visitors found themselves trying to repel wave after wave of Arsenal attack and while Braga occasionally looked threatening on the break, both Laurent Koscielny and Sebastien Squillaci dealt comfortably with whatever was thrown at them.

With half an hour gone they doubled their advantage as Fabregas jinked past two static defenders and slid in Arshavin down the left, the Russian drilling under Felipe to make it 2-0.

That soon became three as the Gunners scored a goal few inside the stadium are likely to forget in a hurry.

Another fine passing move at pace saw Bacary Sagna's cross from the right half-cleared, only for Arshavin to clip it to Chamakh, who laid it off and then collected a gorgeous back-heeled flick from Wilshere to crash past a flailing Felipe.

After the break it was a damage limitation exercise for Braga, but Arsenal still found gaping holes in their defence and one such opportunity enabled an unmarked Fabregas to head in Arshavin's cross from the left.

Fabregas had another shot cleared off the line and Arshavin rifled against the post, before Mexican striker Vela came on to inflict further misery on the visitors.

He first produced a classy, clipped finish to convert Arshavin's fine pass and then took advantage of Fabregas's generosity to knock in a sixth.

Bigger tests await Wenger and his team in Europe this season, but they could barely have got off to a more emphatic start.

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