Arsenal fightback stuns Barca

2011-02-17 06:46

London - Arsenal struck twice in five minutes late in the match to snatch an unlikely 2-1 win over Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash at The Emirates on Wednesday.

Barcelona dominated possession with wonderful passing, working tirelessly to harass the home side in their short spells on the ball, and deservedly led through a David Villa goal after 26 minutes.

They could have had three or four more but Arsenal levelled out of the blue through Robin van Persie in the 78th minute.

That would have been kind on Arsenal, beaten 6-3 on aggregate by the Spaniards in last season's quarter-finals, but they got a huge bonus seven minutes from time when substitute Andrei Arshavin swept in the second after a superb counter-attack.

Arsenal actually started well and it needed a good save by Victor Valdes to block a Robin van Persie shot after five minutes after a clever flick by Cesc Fabregas.

But it was a false dawn as the visitors quickly settled into their well-worn rhythm, moving Arsenal this way and that before slicing them open repeatedly with practically identical passes between the centre backs.

Messi ran on to the first from Villa after 15 minutes but though the striker's dummy took Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny out of the equation his subsequent dinked finish rolled inches wide.

The goal came when Messi returned the compliment and Villa, in acres of space, tucked the ball away with the minimum of fuss.

It could have been more as, just as in last season's first half for the first leg of the quarter-final, Arsenal were chasing shadows with the Spaniards enjoying 61 percent of possession in the first half. Xavi alone made 57 passes with an 86 percent completion rate.

When Arsenal did begin to see some of the ball after the break Barca gave them another lesson, this time in the art of closing down, as they showed that like all great teams they know how to work hard and defend when they have to.

The game seemed to be heading only one way until the ball broke to Van Persie wide on the left with little apparent danger but, from a tight angle he lashed a shot goalwards and it sneaked inside the near post of a flat-footed Valdes.

The goal lifted the crowd and Arsenal responded with a Barca-style counter-attack that ended with Samir Nasri squaring for substitute Arshavin to sweep in the winner

The second leg at the Nou Camp Stadium is on March 8.


  • MOJAC - 2011-02-17 07:32

    Probably the only team that can match the Catalans in open play, Barca were stunned and the Gunners have cracked the CODE.... The difference with the last encounter in this tournament is that Arsenal also defended as a whole clsoing down Messi and co many times. Jack Wielshere is in the mould of Zidane and the Figo, he carried Arsenal in the second half, what a taleneted footboller. We will enjow watching him play like this until one day he gets sold for millions of Euros and then it will be many of them.

      ME - 2011-02-17 08:06

      MOJAC- Wilshere is tops. I agree with you!!!!!!!

      Bratt - 2011-02-17 10:03

      Well done Gunners. Hope you can keep it up on the return match. - 2011-02-17 15:49

      wilshire wont leave . he was born a gooner

  • Louis - 2011-02-17 07:39

    I think that both teams had their moments,Barca maybe a bit more than THE GUNNERS, but Arsenal also wasted a couple of good chances...not a bad result to take to Nou Camp, Keep the Faith.

  • Junaid - 2011-02-17 07:41

    What a useless one sided article

      koolaid - 2011-02-17 10:20

      Agree - this jurno is a wanker.

      Johan - 2011-02-17 12:15

      Amen to that...make Arsenal look that they are complete noobies driven by sheer luck LOL how sweet will the victory be if they can knock the mighty Barca out of the competition given last years result.

  • Johnny Sidestepper - 2011-02-17 08:01


      Andy49 - 2011-02-17 13:52


  • Gunner Nash - 2011-02-17 08:11

    Wow who is the writer? Did u lose a bet lastnight? is that the reason for this crap article? You must have been one of those guys chirping the Gunner supporters through the game, only to be silenced at the end. how does that egg feel on your face? Couldn't even put his name on the article.

      klzsexy - 2011-02-17 08:46

      i totally agree with you, this guy speaking about this great team(barca) knows how to defend, this great team got beat.... the thing is arsenal figured out how to play against barca who likes to play possesion soccer.(boring). the trick was in the second half they played pure english soccer (fast soccer) you can count on your one hand how many oppotunities barca had in the second half... Arsenal in the second half attact, attact and attact, and barca was on the back foot, and for JACK WILSHERE my man of the match, brilliant player..... Arsenal must play in the same way they played the second half, they would actually defeat barca... and i am a united suporter...

      Bob - 2011-02-17 09:04

      klzsexy@ are you having a laugh ?, possession soccer is boring ? compared to what the kick and run stuff we watch here, sorry, you watch here, as the great Bill Shankly said "if you got the ball they can't score" what was your other words of wisdom "Arsenal must play the in the same way they played in the second half, they would actually defeat barca" my friend they DID defeat barca, it's ok I understand your last statement explained everything "and I am a united supporter".

      klzsexy - 2011-02-17 10:47

      Bob.... so what are you saying, possesion soccer gets you all excited, Theres a reason why the EPL is the best and most exciting league in the world, teams play to score gaols not to have 60% possesion at the end of the day... and may i also remind you that barca with there boring soccer has never beatin a english team in england.. check that if you what to.... your great saying if you got the ball they cant score,lol now what about you have the ball but you cant score....then whats the use you had the ball....exactly....think about it.... why do you think inter won barca last year coz they play defensive soccer which allows you to keep the ball, and where did that get them....i wonder what team you support?

      GP - 2011-02-17 11:19

      I enjoyed watching Barca lose at their own game. No excuses about the opposition being negative. However, some punters here always talk of this exciting brand of english footie. Then I watch the England national team to this talked up brand of footie assembled. Need I explain the result? I think it's unfair that some here say English league has more goals. They said Barca has scored 102 goals this season so far. Ronaldo and Messi respectively, are the only players to have scored over 20 league goals each this season. The same Barca style that some say is boring produced more 4+ goals per game this season than any team in England.

      klzsexy - 2011-02-17 11:33

      you talk about how much goals barca has scored.... you really need to watch soocer guy. laliga is only between two teams real and barca where as EPL is between 5 teams... laliga is a week legue, when real plays against the weakest team then they suma win 8 - 0 bt men united plays wigan etc, then its a draw or a 2 - 1 win. so dont speak about goals for the national team, they are just weak....dont compare EPL to the national team, then you speaking about somthing the different leagues and you will know why barca has 4+ goals per game.....dont watch 1 brand of football and think you know it all.

      Bob - 2011-02-17 12:12

      klzsexy, sorry my friend you really do talk a load of Crap, I'm not sure what this brand of football is that you are talking up, I'm not a Barca fan, but trust me there is no team on this planet that can boast a team like this Barca one, Xavi, Silva, Iniesta and oh yes that other guy Messi to name some of their players, absolutely mouth watering, good luck to Arsenal at the Nou they will probably need it in huge slices.

      klzsexy - 2011-02-17 14:43

      excuse me BOB, last time i checked silver plays for man city....and xavi, iniesta and that guy messi was playing lastnight..... thats why barca actually won,( get with the time). that young guy JACK WILSHERE played against the great xavi and iniesta and actually came out on top..... the type of soccer im talking about (if im going to have to teach you) is fast attacting soccer, the kind you actually find when you watching EPL.... the type of soccer that you actually get excited for...barca has there style which is possesion soccer, good for them but its boring, cuming in of the opponentsjust to pass it back to the halfway time is boring, not worth paying for... if i wanted to watch a team pass the ball ill go to there practise.... you have alot to learn guy!!!!!!

      Albo - 2011-02-17 15:01

      C`mon guys, don`t forget that Barca were leading for 80 minutes!! The Arse-anal supporters are going on like they DOMINATED the mighty Barca. Did Arse-anal come back strong or did Barca fall asleep??

  • Gift - 2011-02-17 08:30

    Arsenal wr so lucky to escape

      Gunner Nash - 2011-02-17 08:41

      Gift, u mean like the 2006 final where Barca scored twice in 5 min to come from 1-0 and win the game? I really hope u not a Man Utd supporter

      A(N)ON - 2011-02-17 09:07

      @ Gunner why do u have to bring United into this discussion. Fantastic result to the Gunners - well done! Hopefully the other 2 English teams can do the EPL proud.

      Gunner Nash - 2011-02-17 09:22

      my apologies A(N)ON

      Suckerz - 2011-02-18 08:18

      Gift reading the article guys! Lets face it, the guy that wrote this tripe watched the highlights reel. Great fightback Arsenal - now take the fight to them. Btw, Gunner, he (Gift) would not be a true MUFC supporter coz we know the art of late goals and blitz counter attacks and appreciate these fight-backs more than any other.

  • gary.mahlangu - 2011-02-17 08:32

    Who on earth wrote this article? Which game were you watching pal? Yes Barca did their thing, but they were also playing to the tune of the Gunners for a couple of spells in the game. If anything that was one of the few times i have seen Barca really work! Give respect where it is due and be a man about it. You were one of those people that were always on Arsenals case and probably told all the Gunners fans you knew that we were going to get a hiding! Don't finish the humble pie, there are still a lot of people like you out there that need a taste.... Suck It!

  • Gunner Nash - 2011-02-17 08:49

    I would like to nominate the anonymous writer of this article for plonker of the month, for the following statement: "They could have had three or four more but Arsenal levelled out of the blue through Robin van Persie in the 78th minute". - 2011-02-17 09:00

      well said my man. well said. Arsenal for life

      Gunner Nash - 2011-02-17 11:56

      I think RvP was hiding behind the goal post and suddenly suprised Valdes when he received a back pass, hench him scoring out of the blue.

  • Bob - 2011-02-17 08:54

    Amazing comeback, when I gave it up Barca were making the Gunners look like a Sunday morning pub side, could and should have been probably 3-0 when I nodded off, hats off to the Gunners they are in with a chance now at least, wow what a side on paper and on grass are that Barca, awesome.

  • Gunner Nash - 2011-02-17 09:01

    Haha I guess no team should pay attention to Barcelona's "art of closing down" as Arsenal managed to score two goals

  • Sara - 2011-02-17 09:05

    Barca had 53% possession, hardly domination by any means. Arsneal also had one shot on target more than them and 4 corners to 1. Struggle to see how their goal came "out of the blue" and how lucky they were which is what this horrily biased piece parading as "journalism" seems to imply.

  • Bandit - 2011-02-17 09:23

    coulda woulda shoulda ,,,,, i think barca are overrated and arsenal got it right .... but come on guys you have to do it again and then you all you arsenals can crow and I will crow with you. Some of you "passionate" must realise that we all love football so it doesn't really matter which team you support. Arsenal played well but are they consistant.

  • seeps.mazi - 2011-02-17 10:07

    The first half belonged to Barca and they wasted their chances, at some point they had 61% of the possession and Arsenal were getting a fiootballing lesson. The first Arsenal goal came from pretty much nothing however that second goal was pure class counter attack english football. I am a Man United fan and would like to congratulate Arsenal on the result however they need atleast 2 goals at the Camp Nou as Barca will come at them hard. Good Luck.

  • Clive.D.Buckley - 2011-02-17 10:15

    All it will take is for Barca to win 1-0 at Camp Nou, then the gooners are goners!

      Seja - 2011-02-17 13:47

      Let me jst remind you thats kinda the score line that will take Barca through but realistically do u really think Arsenal wont score at cam nou? Even last season Arsenal managed to score 1 goal with whack squad than they have now. Even if Arsenal were to lose by this score line its enough to see them through, 3-2, 4-3, 5-4, etc should i go on ..?

  • LittleGenius - 2011-02-17 10:20

    Good to....Good to be... Good to be a Gooner.... Barc had some inspired moments but the character of the boys came through, last year we had a very depleted team that was dominated in the quarter-finals. This year it was different, they final came up against a strong team, full of our regular first-team players that can pass the ball as well as they can, which frustrated them and ultimately forced them to chase the game after the equalizer. Jack Wilshere was superb in the midfield and made the likes of Xavi and Ineista seem ordinary. The little Russian, Arshvin finally produced the moment of brilliance that was need, hope this will spark he needs to find he form again. We are the only English team that can still win a 4 cup competitions, and after last nights display I think we finally have the right mix to go all the way.

      Gunner Nash - 2011-02-17 10:36

      lets not get ahead of ourselves, lets take it one game at a time. The game at Camp Nou will have a huge impact on the rest of our season as it will either lift or break the guys spirit. I hope everyone stays fit and we're not hit with injuries again.

  • scott - 2011-02-17 11:09


      klzsexy - 2011-02-17 11:25

      excuse me, barca had a of night, come on, arsenal played good soccer the second half which made barca look off.

  • GP - 2011-02-17 11:24

    I enjoyed watching Barca lose at their own game. No excuses about the opposition being negative. However, some punters here always talk of this exciting brand of english footie. Then I watch the England national team to this talked up brand of footie assembled. Need I explain the result? I think it's unfair that some here say English league has more goals. They said Barca has scored 102 goals this season so far. Ronaldo and Messi respectively, are the only players to have scored over 20 league goals each this season. The same Barca style that some say is boring produced more 4+ goals per game this season than any team in England.

  • Claude - 2011-02-17 11:47

    Rather a biased commentary on the match. There were times when Arsenal dominated. Two good sides with Arsenal coming out on top at home. We now have to see what happens in Spain.

  • JustinD - 2011-02-17 12:13

    Well done Arsenal!!! Now do the same at the Nou Camp. MU would much rather have you in the next round than Barca (if we progress). Good luck lads........

      Gunner Nash - 2011-02-17 13:17

      Imagine a Man U vs Arsenal final.

      seeps.mazi - 2011-02-17 13:32

      Not gonna happen Gunner........ United may make the final however in all fairness I see Barca being too strong at Camp Nou. Good luck though

  • Gosego - 2011-02-17 13:35

    Well done gunners!!!

  • nvledwaba - 2011-02-17 14:32

    arsenal played well but its unfortunate that they won't progress to the next round.

  • amarillomanzana - 2011-02-19 14:26

    Rubbish article... biased as usual.

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