Arsenal young guns stun Turks
Fenerbahce 2 Arsenal 5
The Fenerbahce slogan? 'This is Kadikoy. No way out from here'. Oh really? Arsenal plundered five goals, three points and nicely set themselves up for the knockout stages of the Champions League. Farewell Kadikoy. And thanks very much.
They also consigned the Turkish side to their first home defeat for 16 matches in European competition which leaves their coach, Luis Aragones, desperately clinging to his job just four months after winning the European Championships with Spain. A wall of noise was expected – instead a proud record was demolished.
Kadikoy is known for one other thing. Most visitors pass through this district of Istanbul on their way to somewhere else and Arsenal will hope this is a staging post for another tilt at the European Cup. They certainly should progress from Group G although, as exhilarating as their forward play was at times, with pace and precision and three goals in 11 minutes, their poor defending, admittedly with a depleted line-up, was all too exposed. Still they showed bravery and made a complete mockery of Aragones's claim that they were not a side with attacking intent.
Five hours before kick-off and the luminous-shirted Fener fans were swarming off the ferries on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus and heading for the cafes and bars that sprawl out from the coastline towards this impressive, rebuilt stadium which has been designed in such a way that it holds the noise in even more.
If ever that saying – quieten the crowd – needed to be listened to then it was, for Arsenal, last night. The best way to do that was to score. So Arsenal did it twice within a minute. Both strikes came from the same source, perfectly weighted, perfectly accurate threaded passes by Cesc Fabregas. After 10 minutes he picked out the run of Emmanuel Adebayor. Theo Walcott had sprinted into an offside position, but arced away as the ball ran through to the lone striker. Through on goal, he calmly drew Volkan Demirel and slid the ball into the net. It stunned the home support. Then they were silenced. Again Fabregas was provider and this time his pass was even more astute, selecting Walcott who ran on, rounded Demirel, appeared to be pushed too far wide but wonderfully kept his balance to steer the ball just inside the post.
Two nil. It could have been three. Abou Diaby, a fifth man in midfield with Robin van Persie omitted, left Roberto Carlos, who was struggling with the pace, stumbling and crossed for Samir Nasri who steadied himself and shot. This time, Demirel managed to push the ball away for a corner.
Fenerbahce were rocked. But they had opportunities. Indeed before Arsenal had scored, goalkeeper Manuel Almunia had rushed to block Ugar Boral's point-blank shot and then only poor control from Semih Senturk allowed the stand-in captain to save.
Without three-quarters of their first-choice defence Arsenal, too, were vulnerable. Fenerbahce won a free-kick which was volleyed across goal by Daniel Guiza only to deflect off Mikaël Silvestre and beyond Almunia. A life-line. Then it was whipped away. A flick-on by Adebayor fell to Diaby who muscled his way beyond the retreating defenders to strike a low shot across Demirel to restore Arsenal's advantage before being booked for his celebrations. As clinical as they had been, it was also desperate defending. Arsenal, too, struggled. A simple cross was missed by Alex Song and bounced to the onrushing Ugur Boral who panicked and sliced over. Time and again Fenerbahce were opened up. Nasri, Diaby, Adebayor. They all had half-chances, glimmers at further goals. But so did Guiza. Another simple long ball forward had Arsenal struggling to hold the Spanish striker and he was away before sending a low shot across goal and just beyond the far post. Soon after Almunia smothered a toe-poke from Guiza who, once more, was clear.
Inevitably there was another goal after the break. Again the defending was poor, again Arsenal benefited. Nasri won a free-kick after a forceful run down the left and Fabregas swung it in. Twice it wasn't headed clear, Silvestre challenged and it fell to Song who, with aplomb, volleyed in his first goal in this competition. Not that Arsenal were becoming any more secure. Guiza was released, with another pass straight through the heart of defence, and again Almunia blocked. But the ball fell to Edu whose shot was cleared off the line by Emmanuel Eboué who then charged down Alex's follow-up.
Finally Guiza did score. Again it was a punt forward, Song headed awkwardly and the striker lifted the ball over the stranded Almunia. It left Wenger exasperated, but then substitute Aaron Ramsey, after a wonderful, prolonged passing movement, scored the final goal with a low shot in off a post to cap a superb performance.
Fenerbahce (4-2-3-1): Volkan Demirel; Gokhan (Burak Yilmaz 80), Lugano, Edu, Roberto Carlos; Selcuk, Maldonado (Bilgrin 52); Semih, Alex, Ugar Boral; Guiza. Substitutes not used: Volkan Babacan (gk), Josico, Gurhan Gursoy, Ilhan Parlak, Yasin Cakmak.
Arsenal (4-5-1): Almunia; Eboue, Song, Silvestre, Clichy; Walcott (Djourou 83), Diaby (Ramsey 73), Fabregas, Denilson, Nasri; Adebayor (Vela 87). Substitutes not used: Fabianski (gk), Van Persie, Bendtner, Gibbs.
Referee: P Frojdfeldt (Sweden).