Arsenal 2-1 FC Barcelona made a stunning late comeback through goals from Van Persie and Arshavin to secure their first ever victory over FC Barcelona and give themselves an aggregate lead in what was a Champions League classic at the Emirates Stadium.

David Villa gave the 2009 winners the initiative midway through the first half and though Lionel Messi contrived to miss a couple of gilt-edged opportunities, it seemed it would be enough. However, Robin van Persie put his side level with a shot that wrong-footed Víctor Valdés before substitute Andrey Arshavin side-footed a dramatic winner.

Arsenal had promised a more resolute, mature proposition for Barcelona to deal with compared to the team that had almost lost last season’s quarter-final in the first leg, going 2-0 down before mounting a fightback. The Gunners duly threatened first when Samir Nasri’s free-kick narrowly cleared all his team-mates and carried through to Valdés.

Theo Walcott then overhit his pass to Van Persie following a scintillating run but the speedy winger was soon back on the prowl. This time his pass found Cesc Fàbregas who scooped a lovely ball to give Van Persie a scoring chance at the far post: Valdés did well to parry.

The visitors began to knit their passes together and there was something ominous in the space Daniel Alves was afforded and in Messi’s hunger for the ball.

Messi and Villa combined with a couple of lovely touches which sent the former streaking through with only Wojciech Szczęsny to beat. Credit the goalkeeper, making his European debut, for spreading himself and forcing the world’s supreme talent to steer his chip wide.

A swift Arsenal counter allowed Fabregas to loft the ball out of Valdés’s reach but Éric Abidal was on hand to head away. It only proved the preamble to Barcelona’s opening goal, however, Messi and Villa swapping roles to devastating effect. Messi played the decisive pass to put the Spanish predator in the clear and this time Szczęsny could not keep it out.

Van Persie sliced another opening wide but these were becoming rare opportunities for the Gunners. After the break Arsenal tried all they knew to find their traditional smooth groove. Jack Wilshere fired off a shot at the start of the second half and Van Persie another 20 minutes in but they were no test for a keeper of Valdés’s class.

In their desperation Arsenal became prone to giving the ball away. It nearly proved costly as Andrés Iniesta fed Messi but once more his luck was out as his shot flew into the side-netting. Then the game changed, Van Persie finding a gap between Valdés and his near post following an exquisite chip forward by Gaël Clichy.

The crowd roared their team on for a second and when Nasri broke away five minutes later Arshavin arrived on cue in the penalty area to shoot beyond the goalkeeper. There was late pressure on the home team but they survived and now head for the round of 16 second leg with plenty of confidence, especially as Barcelona will be without Gerard Piqué, suspended after receiving his third yellow card of the campaign tonight.

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7 thoughts on “Arsenal 2-1 FC Barcelona

  1. amazing performance, and we can definitely score a couple over there. wilshere and koscielny were immense.

  2. koscielny was my man of the match cos he kept us in the game with his vital interceptions especially when pedro was one on with our hats off the him people cos i’m on top of the world.

  3. Absolutely agree with comments and article. If I could i would split the motm in half and give it it to kosser and jack. Also if anyone watches more highlights of the match I noticed how everytime barca had the ball with no marking jack always had his hands up and was kinda shouting at the players n I think that shows why he had an immense night. It’s like he thought ‘barca who??’

  4. Before the game,i posted the following quote,”the race is not for the swift,but those who endure to the end”.Prophetic,because that is exactly how this game was played,with Barca being very swift and possesive,and Arsenal grinding it out to the end.Congratulations to the Professor and the entire team.I hope this performance will make believers of some of the doubters.I agree with the previous postings that both Wilshere and Koscienlny had standout performances,but overall the team had a good and positive approach to the game.The return leg will of course be very difficult but not impossible to overcome.We are halfway there,now let’s go to the Nou Camp with belief and finish the job.

    We have the next Vidic Lined up – Koscienlny.
    Next Xavi – Wilshere ( he’ll be better )
    Next Best keeper – Szczęsny

  6. it was a fantastic match,i wish wenger will re watch the match and make some adjustment in all the possible positions that we make a mistake so that the remaining matches will be easier 4 the boys,UP ARSENAL!!!!!

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