A STUNNING first 21 minutes paved the way for Arsenal to beat Fenerbahce 5-2 in their Champions League Group G match at the intimidating Sukru Saracoglu stadium in Istanbul.
Emmanuel Adebayor and Theo Walcott put the Gunners 2-0 up inside 11 minutes and although Mikael Silvestre’s own goal reduced the deficit, Abou Diaby restored the Gunners’ cushion.
Four minutes after half time Alex Song volleyed in a fourth to extend the Gunners’ lead at the top of the group.
The profligate Daniel Guiza pulled a goal back in the 77th minute but it was too late to affect the outcome and substitute Aaron Ramsey scored another deep into injury time.
It was the hosts’ first defeat in Europe at home in 16 matches but in truth they were the architects of their own downfall.
Manager Arsene Wenger was quick to hail the pace and technique of his side and felt their victory was fully deserved. He said: “Overall I believe our mobility, our technique, our pace was superior and that made a big difference tonight.”
Wenger went on to praise the performance of Diaby, who played in an advanced role: “He can do it. He can play nearly everywhere. From midfield going forward, he can play everywhere.”
Wenger was also impressed by teenager Ramsey, his summer signing from Cardiff. “He is 17-and-a-half, he is a very young boy but very promising. His personality really comes out wherever he goes. He really wants the ball, he is not frightened,” he said.
Both teams defended poorly and the only difference between the two was up front where Arsenal took their chances and Fenerbahce did not.
Spain striker Guiza was the main culprit, squandering two excellent opportunities just before half time which could have made it 3-3 at the interval and a much different proposition for Arsene Wenger’s side.
The famous Fenerbahce atmosphere was evident from the start with every Arsenal attack greeted with a cacophony of boos and whistles.
But the crowd were silenced in the 10th minute when Adebayor beat the offside trap to collect Cesc Fabregas’ through-ball and coolly slot past Volkan Demirel for his third Champions League goal in as many matches.
A minute later it was 2-0 as Fabregas replicated his defence-splitting pass and Walcott rounded the goalkeeper, who got half a touch, before firing inside the near post.
The hosts were gifted a goal in the 19th minute when Alex floated in a free-kick and Guiza volleyed across the six-yard area where Silvestre stuck out a leg and diverted the ball past Almunia.
Within two minutes Arsenal restored their two-goal cushion when a long ball forward picked out Diaby, who held off the challenge of two defenders to fire left-footed across Volkan and into the far corner of the net.
The tall midfielder was booked for pulling his shirt over his head but it could not dampen his delight.
In the 31st minute Guiza volleyed past Almunia from close range from Gokhan Gonul’s pass but it was ruled out for offside.
Arsenal took less than four minutes to extend their lead, and once again it came from some poor defending.
Fabregas’ left-wing free-kick was not even half headed away and when the ball dropped to Song on the edge of the six-yard area, he lashed home.
Fenerbahce tried to respond but they found the Arsenal defence less generous than had been the case in the first half.
Alex’s superb pass picked out charging fullback Roberto Carlos but having controlled the ball with his left foot in the penalty area he could not hit it with his right and the chance was lost.
With 17 minutes remaining Diaby was withdrawn and Ramsey sent on for his first proper taste of the Champions League having previously only played in the qualifying round.
In the 77th-minute Guiza finally atoned for his previous errors when he lobbed Alex’s pass over Almunia but it appeared too little too late.
Then in the fourth minute of injury time Ramsey fired in off a post to complete the rout.
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