Inevitable Eduardo would have last word, says Wenger

ARSENE WENGER felt it was inevitable Eduardo would have the last word in last night’s Group H Champions League clash against Standard Liege, with the Croatia striker netting the winner as Arsenal recovered from going two goals down inside five minutes.

Eduardo was only available because the club successfully appealed against UEFA’s two-match ban imposed for diving against Celtic in the second leg of the qualifying tie.

And it was the Brazil-born marksman who had the final word when he stabbed home a corner with 10 minutes to go as the Gunners completed a remarkable comeback.

“It is always inevitable with Eduardo,” said the Arsenal manager.

“He was caught out on the first goal but he is a guy who can always turn up on crosses because he has that anticipation.”

It had not looked good early on though as before Wenger’s men could get going, they trailed 2-0.

Eduardo failed to clear a corner, and Eliaquim Mangala fired in a low strike past rookie goalkeeper Vito Mannone, making his Champions League debut.

Milan Jovanovic then netted from the penalty spot after he was adjudged to have been brought down by William Gallas to put Liege 2-0 up inside five minutes..

However, Arsenal fought back with a well-taken goal from Nicklas Bendtner on the stroke of half-time.

Belgium international Thomas Vermaelen bundled in a second-half equaliser, at which Liege complained Alex Song had been offside and also handled.

Eduardo then completed what was a morale-boosting win for the injury-hit Gunners when he netted from close range. “We were caught cold by a team who were really ready and started out of the blocks at full power,” said Wenger.

“When you go 2-0 down after five minutes, you know you have a big task in front of you. To win away from home in the Champions League and score three goals will be tough.

“We fought back with a goal and then in the second half, the game dropped a bit in physical intensity.’’

Wenger added: “When you are at a big club, you cannot afford to have too many defeats on the trot.

“After being 2-0 down, this will strengthen belief within the group.”

The Arsenal manager claimed he did not get a good view of the match’s two controversial incidents, the first-half penalty for Liege and Vermaelen’s equaliser. “The penalty looked harsh, but I have not seen it again,” said Wenger. “As for our equaliser, it was impossible to see from the bench.”

Standard Liege coach Laszlo Boloni lamented the way his men sat back after a fine start – but felt Arsenal were more than fortunate in their equaliser.

Boloni said: “We started very well, but were not strong enough mentally to continue the same way in the second half.

“We sat back in midfield, so all the pressure was too much for us.”

The Liege coach declared: “Arsenal had good help from the referee at their second goal – two players were offside and there was also a handball.

“This was the moment when they got more motivation and we lost ours, but the biggest problem was we have to play better.”

STANDARD LIEGE: Bolat, Camozzato, Sarr, Mangala, Rocha, Witsel (Traore 84), De Camargo, Gonzalez, Dalmat (Goreux 82), Mbokani, Jovanovic (Nicaise 58).

ARSENAL: Mannone, Eboue (Sagna 80), Gallas, Vermaelen, Clichy, Diaby, Fabregas, Song Billong, Rosicky (Ramsey 70), Eduardo (Wilshere 86), Bendtner.

Referee: Eduardo Iturralde Gonzalez (Spain).


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