Arsenal undone by Fabianski

2010-02-18 00:07

Porto - Two errors from Arsenal goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski allowed Porto to establish a 2-1 lead in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 tie here on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old Pole started in place of the injured Manuel Almunia but gifted the hosts an early lead with a soft own goal and presented them the opportunity to score their second five minutes into the second period by inexplicably picking up a back-pass.

The industrious Falcao was the beneficiary on the latter occasion, rolling the ball past a stranded Fabianski after Ruben Micael took a quick free-kick to secure a slim advantage for his side prior to the second leg on March 9.

Fabianski's nightmare performance distracted attention from an impressive return to European action by Sol Campbell.

The 35-year-old veteran marked his first appearance in continental competition since his return to the club in January by scoring the equaliser - three years and nine months since his goalscoring turn in Arsenal's defeat by Barcelona in the 2006 Champions League final.

Porto's winner sparked a furious reaction from Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger, who was also without William Gallas, Alex Song, Andrey Arshavin, Eduardo and long-term absentee Robin van Persie due to injury.

Wenger stormed to the touchline to remonstrate with Swedish referee Martin Hansson - who was in charge of his highest profile match since the infamous Thierry Henry handball in the 2010 World Cup finals play-off between France and the Republic of Ireland.

Hanson had turned down a strong penalty appeal from Arsenal midfielder Tomas Rosicky shortly before Porto's second goal.

Fabianski kept the score down with a save from Hulk but Arsenal continued to look unsettled at the back and will pray that Fabianski recovers morale in time for the Premier League visit of Sunderland on Saturday.

There was no gentle return for Campbell, who was exposed as early as the second minute, but having been sold short by a loose pass from Bacary Sagna he responded brilliantly to thwart Falcao with an outstretched right leg.

Hulk flashed a shot wide of Fabianski's right-hand post barely a minute later, while Campbell was perhaps fortunate to avoid punishment for a strong bodycheck on the advancing Hulk just inside the Arsenal box.

Disaster first struck for the visitors in the 11th minute, when Varela broke into space down the right before flinging a low cross towards goal that Fabianski, who had edged forward, weakly fumbled over his own line.

Arsenal, though, were quick to react and drew level eight minutes later, Campbell heading home from close range after Rosicky had turned a deep corner back across goal.

Porto goalkeeper Helton was twice called upon before half-time, pushing away a drive from Rosicky and then athletically touching a Nicklas Bendtner header over the bar, while Fabianski repelled Micael's long-range effort at the other end.


  • Andy United - 2010-02-18 06:29

    What puzzles me about Arsenal is the way they always begin a season with a bang, knocking in goals gallo - even their defenders score - then the wheels fall off somewhere along the season. This lack of consistancy surely must be worring Wenger. As a manager, no matter how gifted you are at spotting young talent, you still need experience in your side to match up with Man U, Chelsea and Liverpool. Equaly, the underperformance at international stage should worry Arsen Wenger.

  • carlos - 2010-02-18 06:44

    shame but when Henry scored from a quickly taken free kick a couple of seasons ago he was fine with that.Wenger is becoming the cry baby of the English league.Go United

  • Kube$ - 2010-02-18 08:37

    I am an Arsenal Supporter but Carlos I am with you I was thinking the same thing bro, but sorry I still hate UTD, @ Andy Great comments also. What puzzzles me is how can goals like that can be conceded at this level of the Game, SHOCKING... Glad we got the one goal tho, I think we need a striker, Bendner should play for Birmingham or something. If the Gunners get a striker we will be unstoppable, David Villa or Higuan is on my shopping list, but Wenger caps salary at 60 000 Pounds a week so that leaves us in the DWANG...

  • Nash the Gunner - 2010-02-18 09:02

    @ Carlos, how many articles was there so far of fergie attacking the ref, im sure if it was Utd they would have bein calling for the refs head by now, and when Henry scored that goal many seasons ago the ref never took the ball out of the Chelsea goalie hands and perfectly placed it for him and besides Henry took that freekick from outside the box... and Sol didn't deliberately pass the ball back to the keeper, it was more him trying to shield the ball and accidentely touching it... and how bout Rosicky penalty turned down wich happened infront of the linesman...

  • Rodders - 2010-02-18 09:23

    The main difference between Henry's quick free kick and Porto's was that when Henry took the shot, the ball was loose on the ground. so he simply stopped it and then took the shot. In this instance, the ref tells Fabianski to hand him the ball. Fabianski clearly thinks that means the ball is dead, cause he starts to walk back to his goal to set up the wall for the free kick, but the ref passes the ball to Porto and then lets thewm take it quickly -- personally I think there's nothing wrong with what Porto have done, but the ref was very wrong. Imagine if it had been a direct free kick and the player standing up to the ball (to prevent the quick kick) was told to back up ten yards, and while he is doing so the ref then allows the kick to be taken? In fact, what it most reminds me of is the insstance where Ireland scored a quick penalty against the Springboks, after the ref had told Smit to go and talk to his players - you're doing what the ref has asked and then he allows something completely unexpected to stand, it is a bit unfair, if you ask me....!! Of course, Porto did deserve to win the game, despite the clear penalty we should have had!

  • Big K - 2010-02-18 09:39

    Guys, u win some decisions and you loose some!! Porto were allowed to play the freekick immediately according to the rules!! Its amazing how Sol went from HERO to ZERO in a matter of 40 minutes!! Fabregas had a K@k game!! But to be honest i think Arsenal will finish them off at the emirates!!! Rosicky's was a penalty,tough!!! Out of all the away teams this week, its only united, who had probably the most difficult place to go to, WON!!! GGMU

  • rico the gooner - 2010-02-18 11:34

    for all you idiots going on about henry's quick free kick all those seasons ago maybe if henry was in the team we would have better results from the ref ! clear penalty for rosicky and a dumb dumb dumb mistake by the ref i mean who just gives the ball to the other team and then blocks the defender from defending ??? What was sol meant to do push the ref outa the way ?? what a crock of s*** . When these dirt cheating pora idiots come to the Emirates the game will be so different !

  • Danny - 2010-02-18 12:18

    I'm porra, i hope porto get smacked when they visit the gunners and i would love to meet the ref in public sometime

  • rico - 2010-02-18 13:04

    rico the gooner........dont worry about trophys ....u guys are debt free!!!!!!!! u can change and be like me .....rico united forever

  • rico the gooner - 2010-02-18 14:13

    David Morris (Aberdeen fan) says... The Referee was woefully wrong. I am an ex football referee. 1. It was not a deliberate pass back. 2. When he blew his whistle to stop play, he should immediately have raised his right arm to indicate it was an indirect free kick and raised his left hand to indicate in which direction (which team) the direct free kick was given. The fact it was not a deliberate pass and no signal was given from the ref caused total confusion, but for the players around the situation. The ref took the ball from the keeper and handed it on a plate to the opposition player. FARCICAL and totally against the spirit of the laws in which the game is supposed to be played. He gave Porto every chance to score and Arsenal NO CHANCE to defend. There is nothing wrong in taking a free kick quickly, but did nobody notice that the referee only raised his hand to show that it was an in-direct free kick AFTER THE PLAYER TOOK THE FREE KICK! (Farcical) And that was on top of the penalty he didn't give one minute earlier. This referee was a joke for the Irish and he was a joke last night too! And I shall tell you exactly why he didn't give the penalty - because he disn't see it - that's why. if you watch the tv/film again, the merest, almost 100th of a second before the trip he slants his head and looks directly towards the goal. By the merest of a fraction of a second he took his eye off the ball. This referee doesn't possess enough BRAIN as regards being a football referee that you keep your eye on the ball for danger at all times! In danger areas he doesn't keep his eye on the ball, hence the reason he missed the Irish incident too. This referee if allowed to continue at the highest level will make more similar mistakes -comment from sky sports website ! so just shhh !

  • Dr Phil - 2010-02-18 15:21

    Hi guys, tough call by the ref. Arsenal were undoubtedly better on the day and were it not for the keeper would have come up trumps last night. No doubt that they still have the advantage going in to the home tie with an away goal. I can't see them losing (if they play like they did last night AND with the regular keeper) against Porto.

  • Nash the Gunner - 2010-02-18 15:37

    @ Rico the gooner/ David Morris: well said, but how could the linesman miss the penalty? methinks this ref gona cause more problems in the world cup...

  • rico the gooner - 2010-02-19 10:44

    @ nash the gunner . bru if that ref is indeed in the world cup i think it would be best if he did the bafana bafana games , ( give them a real chance of going to next round ) hehehehehehehe . Other than that i dont think fifa would ever admit that one of there loyal refs is a complete dumb ass .

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