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Arsenal 5 Porto 0 (agg 6-2): Bendtner leads massacre as top Gunners cruise

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10 Mar 2010 00:36:44

Arsenal 5 Porto 0 (agg 6-2): Bendtner leads massacre as top Gunners cruise

Those who nicknamedhim 'BarndoorBendtner' after his efforts against Burnley last weekendmight still take some convincing when the opportunitiesArsenal's Danish striker enjoyed last night did not exactly test his finishing ability to the maximum. Two goals from close range. One from the penalty spot. It was a relativelysimple hat-trick even if the bookies were giving odds of 40-1 against it happening. Those same critics might argue that he could not score the kind of goal that Samir Nasri produced to put this Champions League tie beyond Porto's reach.  Great Dane: Nicklas Bendtner fired a hat-trick to seal Arsenal's progression A magical exhibition of individual skill will long be likened to Archie Gemmill and Ricky Villa, crowning a quite brilliant performance from the sometimes fabulous little Frenchman. They might even question whether he would have possessed the composureof Emmanuel Eboue to not only time his run to perfection, in accelerating on to a ball from the artist that is Andrey Arshavin, but then skip beyond the reach of an advancing Helton and score into an empty net. But Nicklas Bendtner's efforts nevertheless amounted to a fine response to the criticism he received after Saturday, having dared suggest earlier this season that he would finish the campaign as top scorer in the Barclays PremierLeague.  Completing the rout: Emmanuel Eboue rounds Porto keeper Helton He still has some distance to go, and not just because the three goals he scored at the Emirates last night took his tally for the season to a modest eight. He still has much to learn and when Arsene Wenger said afterwards that he hoped the hat-trick would not give the cocksure22-year-old 'too much confidence'he did so with good reason. But Wenger needed someone who could rescue his side from a pretty precarious situation after the first leg in Oporto and Bendtner made an important contribution.The way Arsenal's manager danced with delight at the sight of Eboue scoring Arsenal's fourth goal suggested he was fairly satisfied.  Solo stunner: Nasri fires home after mazy run to make it three for Arsenal Perhaps even feeling pretty pleased with himself. Wenger did predict that Bendtner would 'score his next one' and he also declared that his side would create a small piece of Arsenal 'history' in this contest. It had been more than 30 years since Arsenal last overturned a first-leg deficit in Europe and Wenger should take great pride in the way his young side ended that particularrun in the absence of the injured Cesc Fabregas and William Gallas. It said much for their ability as well as their growing maturity.Evidence, once again, that they could continue to progress in this competition but maintain one of the most unlikely runs for the line in a fascinating English title race. Their run-in suggests they could yet creep across the line ahead of Manchester United and Chelsea. Make mine a double: Nicklas Bendtner wheels away after firing his second of the evening Their confidence will be high after this, after the fashion in which Nasri excelled, Arshavin destroyed Porto on the left, Alex Song dominated central midfield and Thomas Vermaelen and Sol Campbellcombined to frustrate Porto's forwards. That said, the presence of Manuel Almunia in the place of the error-prone Lukasz Fabianski also helped. Almunia played well here. But then so did his colleagues, their fast, fluent football proving too much for their opponents from the very start. They did not just make history. They made mincemeatof Jesualdo Ferreira's team.In the hapless Fucile they certainlyexposed a key weakness, the Uruguayan right-back having the kind of game he will quickly want to forget. At full stretch: Bendtner opens the scoring It was a terrific pass from Nasri that propelled Arshavin towards goal in the 10th minute but the interception of Fucile took the ball away from Helton and into the path of Bendtner, who did well to hold off two defenders for an easy finish. Little more than 15 minutes later and Fucile was central to the action again. It was his clearance that went straight to Arshavin, and the Porto full back who Arshavin then beat, along with Nuno Coelho, before presentingBendtner with the opportunityto score into an empty net. MATCH STATSARSENAL (4-4-2): Almunia 6; Sagna 7, Campbell 6, Vermaelen 7, Clichy 7; Nasri 9 (Denilson 72min, 6), Song 7, Diaby 6, Rosicky 6 (Eboue 58, 7); Bendtner 8, Arshavin 8 (Walcott 78).Booked: Vermaelen, Bendtner. FC PORTO (4-3-2-1): Helton 6; Fucile 4, Rolando 5, Bruno Alves 6, Alvaro Pereira 6; Ruben Micael 6, Coelho 5 (Rodriguez 46, 6), Raul Meireles 5; Varela 7, Hulk 6; Falcao 6.Booked: Falcao, Alvaro Pereira, Fucile.Man of the match: Samir Nasri.Referee: Frank De Bleeckere (Belgium). Arshavin then missed a sitter, squandering a piece of brilliance from Nasri, and when Nasri then cleared a header from Ruben Micael off the line after the break, Wenger started to get a little anxious. One goal from Porto, after all, and they would be back to square one.But then came two quite stunning goals in three minutes. Two goals that turned anxiety into ecstasy.The first, from Nasri, was a gem. Starting out wide on the right, he dribbled through three Porto playersbefore driving a shot across Helton'sbody and in off the far post. The second came from a rapidly executed counter-attack that began with a Porto corner. Arshavin surged upfield with the ball at his feet before feeding an inch-perfect pass into the path of Eboue, who rounded Helton to score. Bendtner's fifth came in stoppage time. Fucile fouled Eboue and the towering Dane converted calmly from the spot, completing his first senior hat-trick and the transitionfrom barn door to box office.  Fabregas reveals that winning Arsenal captaincy sealed Gunners commitmentArsene Wenger: Sol Campbell's form shows I was right to bring him back to ArsenalFormer Arsenal keeper Lehmann set to call time on his playing careerTheo Walcott demands medals this season as Arsenal winger is sick of losingARSENAL FC


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