Arsenal cruise to the semi finals of the UEFA Champions League as Walcott manhandled the Villareal defence to set up the win.
Arsenal already had Almunia, Clichy, Gallas and Djourou out of contention for the match, only to recieve even more bad news as Sagna had to pull out due to fever. That meant only Kolo Toure would be a regular first teamer in the back five of Arsenal. In the midfield Denilson was surprisingly rested to accomodate Song. Fabregas, Nasri and Walcott completed the midfield with van Persie and Adebayor up front.
The defence was a weak one but the attack of Arsenal was an exceptionally strong one and it showed. From the start Arsenal were dominating. Walcott terrorising Capdevilla time and again, sending dangerous balls in and beating defenders at will. The domination paid off after just 9 mins. Eboue slid through a ball for Walcott, it was helped on by a delicate flick by Fabregas which wrong footed the defender and Walcott was through on goal. The youngster’s first touch was not what he would have wanted, but despite that he made no mistake in chipping the ball over Diego Lopez.
Nasri was looking equally effective on the other flank. The Frechman sent in a lofted cross in only for van Persie to head over the bar. van Persie then tried one himself from long range but the keeper had no problem saving it.
Chances kept coming Arsenal’s way. A free kick for Arsenal in van Persie territory but the Dutchman’s powerful shot puched away by Diego Lopez but only to Adebayor who headed it in. It was going off target but Arsenal legend Pires made a mess of it and sent it towards the goal. But a goal-line clearance from Gonzalo saved Pires blushes.
Slowly though Villareal were getting into the game. Godin forced a save from Fabianski and so did Pires. The last chance of the half also fell to the Yellow Submarine as Godin headed over the bar from a corner.
Arsenal must have been thoroughly pleased with their performance in the first half. Keep it up, get a goal and kill the tie. That’s what they needed to do in the second half but Villareal had other plans.
From the start of the second half, Arsenal looked a shade of what they were in the first half. Arsenal were giving away possession too easily and Villareal were keeping it.
The very first chance of the second half for Arsenal came 15 minutes into it. van Persie got away from a couple of defenders, looked up and slid the ball through for Adebayor. The forward took one touch and finished with the outside of his foot with the second. 2-0 to the Arsenal and Gunners were dancing with joy!
The game seemed over but Villareal still had faint hopes of getting something from it. Those hopes were dashed by the best player of the night Theo Walcott. Winning the penalty as his quick feet were too quick for the defender. Though it did seem the penalty was wrongly given, at least the Villareal players thought so and went on arguing with the referee. Eguran was in the thick of it, got a second yellow for dissent and off he went. The referee wasn’t changing his decision and van Persie wasn’t going to miss the penalty! 3-0!
After that goal Villareal virtually gave up. Arsenal also decided to relax. Just passing the ball around for fun till the match ended.