The Gunners bounce back (2-1)

Barça lost away to Arsenal in a vibrant Champions League quarter final first leg. Two late goals cancelled out Villa’s opener, but all has yet to be decided at the Camp Nou.

Jordi Clos

February 17, 2011 01:48 AM

Arsenal and Barça joined forces to provide London with a footballing feast this evening. Both sides stayed faithful to their typical styles, seeking to dominate the possession and playing ambitiously, and as a result we were able to enjoy an open, unpredictable encounter that had a little bit of everything, including an unexpected twist at the end. Barça had opened the scoring through David Villa, but Arsenal never gave up and got their reward with two late goals that mean they’ll have a head start when the two sides meet again at the Camp Nou.

English threat

Arsenal took the imitative, and were all over Barça for the first ten minutes. Their direct approach created the first chance for Van Persie in the 6th minute, but Valdés managed to get in the way. It took a good fifteen minutes before the FCB midfield finally settled into their rhythm, and started producing the kind of combination plays that defences find so hard to deal with. They may have made an impressive start, but Arsenal were struggling now, and Leo Messi looked to have scored when he broke through one-on-one with goalkeeper Szczesny, but his deft finish missed the target by inches.

Villa finds the net

Barça were finally showing their class, and Arsenal were pushed further and further back, having been forced to surrender possession to the Catalan side and rely instead on the counter attack. A brilliant defensive header from Abidal prevented Arsenal from doing just that, shortly before Villa finally opened the scoring by latching onto the end of a Messi assist. As the Emirates was subjected to an FCB onslaught reminiscent of the one last year, Szczesny was twice called upon to prevent Pedro from making it two, while Messi had a goal very questionably disallowed for offside.

The comeback

Arsenal started looking more and more dangerous as the second half wore on, and for a long period had Barça desperately against the ropes. Piqué and Abidal, well shielded by Busquets, were largely to thank for keeping the Premiership side at bay before Messi once again silenced the Emirates with what looked like a goal in the 67th minute, but his effort had only struck the side-netting.

It looked like Barça had finally regained control of the game and a second goal was very much on the cards. But then the game took an unexpected turn for the worst. In the 78th minute, Van Persie lost his defender and surprised Valdés with a powerful strike from the narrowest of angles to put the sides back level. Shortly after, Arshavin finished off a move that had been brilliantly started by Nasri and in just five minutes Arsenal had turned around a game that Barça looked to have won. For the neutral, it was a thrilling finale to a fantastic game of football, and the good news is that it will all be happening again in the second leg at the Camp Nou. Barcelona are going to have to bite back.


0-1 Villa (min 26)
1-1 Van Persie (min 78)
2-1 Arshavin (min 83)