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Bendtner inspires five-star Gunners

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09 Mar 2010 23:09:08

Bendtner inspires five-star Gunners

Nicklas Bendtner's hat-trick helped Arsenal make history in emphatic style at the Emirates Stadium by overturning Porto's first leg lead to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a 5-0 (6-2 on aggregate) win.

The Gunners were trailing 2-1 from the first leg and had to do without injured captain Cesc Fabregas.

However, Arsene Wenger's young team rose to the challenge as a first-half brace from Bendtner - who missed a string of chances against Burnley here three days ago - was followed by fine goals from Samir Nasri and Emmanuel Eboue before the young Dane slotted home a penalty in the final minute to secure a place among the last eight of Europe's elite once again.

Arsenal had started brightly and went ahead after 10 minutes. Goalkeeper Manuel Almunia booted a long clearance up field, which Andrey Arshavin nodded back for Nasri. The Frenchman knocked a quick pass between the centre-backs for the Russian to run onto.

In tracking back, Porto defender Jorge Fucile clattered into his keeper, and Bendtner was first to react, stabbing the loose ball into the empty net.

With the tie now level, Arsenal looked to go ahead. Porto continued to pass the ball crisply, but were undone again on 25 minutes. Fucile's poor clearance was latched onto by Arshavin and the diminutive Russian weaved into the left side of the penalty box, before pulling the ball back along the six-yard box to Bendtner, who just could not miss.

Arsenal, who were anything but convincing at the back, were somewhat fortunate when Brazil forward Hulk stabbed a shot into the arms of Almunia, while Nasri cleared a header from substitute Cristian Rodriguez off the line just after the break.

The Frenchman, however, then settled any nerves with a quite brilliant individual goal after 64 minutes. After collecting the ball just outside the area on the right, Nasri twisted past three Porto defenders before drilling a low shot in off the far post from the tightest of angles.

Safe passage to the quarter-finals was assured three minutes later when, following a Porto corner, Arshavin broke quickly down the left, holding the ball up before releasing the on-rushing Eboue, who rounded the keeper and stroked in a fourth.

Eboue was brought down for by Fucile to concede a penalty in the final minute - which the young Dane stroked into the bottom corner to collect the match ball.


PA

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