Champions League – Gunners pegged back by Kuyt

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Arsenal and Liverpool drew 1-1 in their Champions League quarter-final first leg encounter at the Emirates Stadium.
Adebayor goal, Arsenal v Liverpool. FOOTBALL – 0
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Emmanuel Adebayor gave Arsenal a 23rd minute lead but Dirk Kuyt equalised within three minutes to claim a vital away goal for Liverpool.

Rafa Benitez’s side withstood strong second-half pressure, which included claims for a penalty by Alexander Hleb and also saw Nicklas Bendtner inadvertently clear off the Liverpool goalline, to go back to Merseyside for the second leg next Tuesday on level terms.

The first of three meetings between the sides in six days started cagily but after 20 minutes the Gunners suddenly sprang to life.

A super ball from Mathieu Flamini found Robin van Persie, who got in between the two centre-halves, but the Dutchman volleyed over the top.

A wonderful move from the Gunners followed and Pepe Reina had to dive full stretch away to his left to push van Persie’s slightly scuffed shot around the post.

But from the resulting corner, Adebayor was afforded a free header and the big striker planted the ball past Reina from eight yards with Liverpool’s zonal marking brought into question once again.

However the lead was short lived as Steven Gerrard burst past Kolo Toure and William Gallas and into the penalty area. His cross deflected off Flamini, who failed to clear the ball at the start of the move, and Kuyt nipped in ahead of Gael Clichy to smuggle the ball home from close range.

Manuel Almunia had to get down well to deny Kuyt at the start of the second-half but then the Gunners took charge.

Theo Walcott, on for the injured van Persie at the start of the second-half, crashed a 25-yard diagonal piledriver only marginally past the far post before squaring to the disappointing Emmanuel Eboue who was unable to hook his shot on target from eight yards.

The game’s controversial moment came with 25 minutes remaining as Hleb launched an amazing run that saw him trick his way past five men before seemingly having his arm hooked back by Kuyt only for the Dutch referee Pieter Vink to wave away the penalty claim to the amazement of the Belarus midfielder.

The hosts continued to press and Bendtner teed up Cesc Fabregas who drove his shot past the post before the same pair combined only this time the Dane denied his team-mate a certain goal.

Adebayor got to the by-line and his chip eluded the sub in the centre but fell to Fabregas whose effort was set to nestle in the corner before Bendtner, in attempting to flick the ball into the net, knocked it away from danger.

The offside flag went up but if Bendtner hadn’t touched the ball, Arsenal would have been ahead again and the winner was not to come.

Fabregas’ diving header from Adebayor’s centre was straight at Reina and a great block from Jamie Carragher prevented the Togo striker reaching Bendtner’s cross.

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