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Gunners hammer Hamburg
21 Nov 2006 - 22:13:17
Arsenal came from behind to clinch a crucial 3-1 victory at home to Hamburg to go top of Champions League Group G.
The Gunners trailed at the break after Rafael van der Vaart fired home a superb early opener, but Arsene Wenger's side stormed back thanks to goals from Robin van Persie, Emmanuel Eboue and Julio Baptista.
Van der Vaart stunned most inside the Emirates Stadium after just four minutes as he found space 25 yards out and smashed a superb right-foot shot beyond Jens Lehmann.
Ten minutes later Alex Hleb wriggled clear inside the area and lofted a shot against the crossbar from 12 yards out with keeper Stefan Wachter beaten.
The rest of the first half was a tetchy affair, with four players going into the book and few clear-cut chances being created by either side.
However, Arsenal came flying out of the traps after the restart and were level within seven minutes.
The impressive Cesc Fabregas found space in midfield and fed van Persie running clear in the inside right channel and he slid a low right-foot shot under the advancing Wachter.
Thierry Henry then picked up a caution that will see him miss the group finale against FC Porto, before Mario Fillinger threatened twice within a minute for the German visitors.
Wenger threw on both Emmanuel Adebayor and Theo Walcott as the Gunners went for broke and 14 minutes from time Fabregas almost did the trick, but his deflected long-range drive came back off the crossbar.
However, with just seven minutes to play Arsenal made the crucial breakthrough, as Eboue found space on the right and his near post shot squirmed under Wachter and rolled into the back of the net.
There was still time for the home side to add a third, as Walcott sprinted clear down the right and crossed for Baptista to head home and register his first goal for Arsenal since his summer arrival from Real Madrid.
The result leaves Arsenal top of Group G and they need a draw in Portugal to make sure of a place in the knockout stages, although they will have to complete the job without captain Henry.
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