Match Report: Arsenal 2-2 Barcelona
Arsenal battled back brilliantly to score two goals and earn a draw with Barcelona in the Champions League quarter final — keeping their European ambitions alive in the process.
The current European Champions Barca wereall over Arsenal throughout the first half and the Gunners were very lucky to go into half-time with the score 0-0.
Brilliant goalkeeping by Manuel Almunia and key blocks from the Arsenal defenders kept the first-leg match from being all over by the 15th minute.
Arsenal’s Starting XI & Subs
Sagna – Gallas – Vermaelen – Clichy
Fabregas – Song – Diaby
Nasri – Bendtner – Arshavin
Subs: Fabianski (GK), Campbell, Eboue, Denilson, Rosicky, Walcott, Eduardo.
Arsenal’s luck ended around 30 seconds after the restart when Zlatan Ibrahimovic latched onto a long ball punted downfield by Gerard Pique and lifted it over Almunia.
Ibrahimovic, who atoned for earlier misses, scored his second in the 59th minute when he beat the offside trap. He was unmarked when he blasted the ball past Almunia from the right after Alex Song failed to get tight enough to the Swede.
Theo Walcott pulled a goal back for Arsenal three minutes after going on as a substitute when he struck a low shot past Victor Valdes from the right after a pass from Nicklas Bendtner in the 69th.
Arsenal continued to pile pressure on in the latter stages and it paid off when Cesc Fabregas was brought down by Carles Puyol in the 84th and the captain converted the penalty to equalise. Puyol was sent off and Barcelona played the rest of the match with 10 men.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on the game:
“We looked nervous to begin with. We gave the ball away too quickly, but in fairness they kept going and they missed chances and we did. The regret I have – and I don’t deny we played against a great side – but we gave two cheap goals away. It is beyond understanding.”