A clinical Arsenal defeated Barcelona 2-1 in the first leg of the last 16 of Champions League 2010-11 at the Emirates Stadium tonight. The Gunners produced a superb display of beautiful football to clinch an excellent come-from-back victory in front of home crowd.
David Villa put Barcelona ahead in the 26th minutes against the run of play, but two superb goals from Robin van Persie and Andrey Arshavin in the space of just 5 minutes in the second half ensured the victory for the home side.
Arsenal started to dominate right from the kick off and created a number of scoring opportunities. In fact, Theo Walcott with his electrifying pace and excellent control threatened the Barcelona defense every now and then. Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie were also playing at their top. Arsenal was unlucky not to get a goal before Villa struck for Barcelona.
Villa’s goal just brought the confidence back to the Catalan side. In fact, Barcelona started to gain some control in the match and they led 1-0 at the half time.
Barcelona started the second half safely knowing that 1-0 victory would be convincing enough to start the second leg at Nou Camp. Arsenal players, on the other hand, left no possible chances to go on attack and create scoring opportunities. However, Barcelona defense successfully restricted the Gunners until the 78th minute when Robin van Persie scored the equalizing goal.
The Dutch striker rushed on the left wing after receiving a through ball and then found a narrow angle between the Barcelona keeper and his near post, and he did not make any mistake to slot the ball into the goal.
This goal just inspired the home side who increased pressure on Guardiola boys. Just after 5 minutes, Arshavin, who had just come on as the substitute for Alex Song, showed his class by converting Nasri’s pass from the right wing with superb precision.
This victory has come as a psychological boost for Wenger boys who would now start the second leg confidence. Barcelona hosts the Gunners in the return leg on 8 February 2011. No doubt, football world would like to enjoy another exciting affair of Champions League, but this time at Nou Camp.