Goals rained down in London and Florence on Tuesday night as Arsenal put five unanswered goals past Porto to overturn a 2-1 first-leg defeat in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League, while Fiorentina did the same with their 2-1 deficit, but fell to Bayern Munich on the away goals rule after a 4-4 aggregate score.
Previously under-fire Nicklas Bendtner was the hero for the Gunners with two strikes in the first half and three overall, while Stevan Jovetic’s brace for La Viola was not enough as Fiorentina and Bayern shared four goals in under 12 second-half minutes.
Arsenal 5-0 Porto (6-2 aggregate)
Goals: Nicklas Bendtner 10, 25, 90+1, Samir Nasri 63, Emmanuel Eboue 66
Fiorentina 3-2 Bayern Munich (4-4 aggregate, Bayern advance on away goals)
Goals: Juan Vargas 28, Stevan Jovetic 54, 64; Mark van Bommel 60, Arjen van Robben 65
Goal of the night
Fiorentina 3-2 Bayern Munich (Robben 65)
Quick on the heels of Jovetic’s second goal, which turned the tie once again in the direction of the home side, Robben lifted his side on his own almost straight from kick-off. The Dutch winger angled inside from the right and unleashed a 25-yard left-footed blast into the top left corner of the home net to put the German giants back in control of the match and finally into the quarter-finals after a dramatic night in Italy.
Early redemption: After missing four clear chances in the league over the weekend, Bendtner came up big early for coach Arsene Wenger, who expressed his support for the Danish international before the match. The first came after a collision in the box that saw the two Porto central defenders and goalkeeper end up on the ground along with Andrei Arshavin, leaving Bendtner the last man standing for an easy put away. Some fabulous work with the ball by Arshavin, who danced around three defenders and into the box, set up Bendtner to get another at the Emirates Stadium.
Wind aided: With the wind howling at their back at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, Fiorentina’s Marco Marchionni's long shot was fumbled by Hans-Jorg Butt in Bayern’s goal as he dove to his right. With a race on to the ball, Peru winger Juan Vargas got to it first and angled his powerful left-footed shot well into the roof of the net.
Combining for two: After going close twice on his own in the first five minutes of the second half, La Viola’s Alberto Gilardino combined with Jovetic to blow the match wide open. The first came from a brilliant touch that deadened the ball in the box for the Montenegrin to slot past Butt, and for the second, Gilardino headed down into the path of his team-mate, who brushed aside defender Daniel Van Buyten to finish under the goalkeeper.
FIFA World Cup™ contenders
Along with setting up the goals for Jovetic, lone striker Gilardino ran ceaselessly to keep pressure on Bayern in their own third, which in the first half helped frustrate the German giants. When things opened up in the second period, captain Mark van Bommel gave the visitors a lifeline with a perfectly placed long shot from France’s Franck Ribery’s cross after Bastian Schweinsteiger won the ball in midfield.
Hat-trick hero Bendtner will no doubt draw the headlines for Arsenal, but a pair of unsung heroes held the explosive Porto attack down when the match still hung in the balance. Cameroon’s Alexandre Song was the definition of a defensive midfielder, sweeping up messes in front of the defence, while France’s Bacary Sagna was a constant threat down the right from his full-back position. For Porto, Brazilian goalkeeper Helton made a string of fine saves, particularly in the first half to keep his team in the match. Uruguayan Cristian Rodríguez came on a substitute in the second half and was a constant thorn in the side of Wenger’s men down the left wing. Due to him, the visitors looked like they were in the contest until France’s Samir Nasri did some fine dancing of his own to put the tie away. Côte d’Ivoire’s Emmanuel Eboue and Bendtner continued to punish the exhausted Portuguese.
Round of 16 second leg - 10 March
Manchester United - AC Milan (3-2)
Real Madrid - Lyon (0-1)
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