Champions League – Bendtner sends Arsenal through
Arsenal reached the last 16 of the Champions League as sub Nicklas Bendtner scored the only goal of the game against Dynamo Kiev at the Emirates Stadium.
Following their 0-0 home draw against Fenerbahce, Arsene Wenger’s side again struggled to find the net in Europe but the Dane struck three minutes from time after a raking pass from new skipper Cesc Fabregas.
Porto’s 2-1 victory in Istanbul sees the Gunners go through with the Portuguese side and they will contest top spot in Group G in Oporto in a fortnight’s time.
There was a hint of controversy to the goal as Kiev did not contest a drop ball and Fabregas picked out Bendtner who fired past visiting keeper Stanislav Bogush at the near post.
Bendtner was booked for removing his shirt in celebration after his first goal since September 23 and an irate Kiev were reduced to ten men shortly after as Olexandr Aliyev was shown a red card for pushing referee Alain Hamer from Luxembourg.
Fabregas led the side out but just as he has been for the past week, William Gallas was the central figure in proceedings for much of the match.
An awful mistake from the deposed skipper late in the first-half gifted Ismael Bangoura possession and Gallas was happy to see the Guinean striker’s effort come off the outside of the post.
It was Kiev’s only real effort of the first half which ended with Gallas turning the ball home only for the offside flag to correctly go up.
Bogush flapped at a corner and Alexandre Song headed the ball through to Gallas who flicked the ball into the net but Kiev were quick to clear their six-yard box and the goal was ruled out.
Clear cut chances were few and far between with a Robin van Persie shot bouncing off the chest off Bogush and Mikael Silvestre diverting a dangerously whipped free-kick from the Dutchman over the top.
Arsenal came closest to breaking the deadlock three minutes into the second-half when Bogush made a hash of a Fabregas free-kick. Van Persie’s initial effort was blocked by Artem Milevskiy and then the rebound was cleared from in front of his own goal by Gallas with the French defender unable get out of the way of the goalbound shot in time.
Kiev had the better of the chances from there on in with Bangoura fizzing a shot wide and Almunia claiming Olexandr Aliyev’s 25-yard shot at the second attempt.
And 12 minutes from time Almunia made a vital save to preserve the cleansheet. The Spaniard custodian was quick off his line to deny Milevskiy from close range after Arsenal’s high line was exposed.
By that time Jack Wilshere had become Arsenal’s youngest ever player in Europe, as the 16-year-old replaced Carlos Vela, and he watched Bendtner break his long barren streak in front of goal as Arsenal reached the knockout phase of Europe’s premier competition for the sixth consecutive season.
Fenerbahce 1-2 Porto
Two goals from Lisandro Lopez earned Porto a 2-1 victory against Fenerbahce and a place inn the Champions League last 16, with a late goal from Colin Kazim-Richards not enough to rescue the home side.
Lisandro put the visitors ahead in the 19th minute after Fenerbahce failed to clear a corner, hooking in a shot from close range through the home side’s defence.
He doubled the Portuguese side’s lead after a throw-in 10 minutes later. Fenerbahce goalkeeper Volkan blocked his first shot on goal only for Lisandro to score with his second effort, despite claims of handball from Fenerbahce players.
Half-time substitute Kazim-Richards pulled a goal back for Fenerbahce in the 63rd minute with a long-range shot which deflected off Bruno Alves and went beyond the reach of Porto goalkeeper Helton.
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