Reyes wanted to dwell on the ball and a poor pass from him with Arsenal forward put a lot of pressure on our defenders, but Sol and Gail, in for the injured Cole, were up to the task. The game was rather stop-start, Celta got a lot of men around the ball and flooded midfield, consequently we didn’t find much space in which to flow. Freddie was tripped wide right and Pires took the kick. He hit it deep beyond the far post where an unmarked Edu got in a header but it bounced off the bum of a defender. Edu reacted quickest, jabbed out a toe as the keeper rushed at him head-first and the ball seemed to bounce off a shin into the net. 0-1 Arsenal as Cavellero their keeper split the top of his nose open on Edu’s knee. A total accident, a lot of blood and a long delay till the restart. A fortunate start.
Celta went to ground with relative ease but Anders Frisk the ref was not buying the cons. Freddie was in tonight on the right but well below par and conceded a free kick. Silvinho bent it in and Edu (the one that plays for Celta headed home) 1-1. Edu (theirs) had a great match tonight and posed problems throughout the first half down our right flank. Poor marking by Pat didn’t help from the free kick, but is was a well taken goal. The goal lifted their rather sparse crowd.
Pat tried a solo and we had some slick passing moves but no end product. Henry was caught offside and it looked very marginal. Silvinho burst into our box and ran into Kolo, surprisingly it was Kolo who suffered the injury. A poor clearance by Jens, it’s becoming a habit, set up a chance for Edu (the other one from Sao Paulo) who saw his shot well saved as Lehmann atoned for his error. A poor Celta clearance won us a corner as Henry had one of his little aggressive spells, he was obviously fired up but not getting the service. Pires took the corner which Kolo headed into the stratosphere. Edu (ours) had a shot blocked as Celta got numbers around the ball. Silvinho fouled Rob who was on a run for a yellow card.
Sol conceded a free kick which Pat headed clear as two Celta Vigo players strayed offside. We then won a fluky free kick for handball, which Henry hit over, it dipped but nowhere near enough. Four minutes added time, almost all of which was to stem the blood flow from their keeper’s head wound, it looked bad but he played on. A scrappy half which Celta probably edged on possession, but there seemed to be plenty in our locker to come.
We were not denied for long though as Edu picked up a loose ball and tip-toed through with a soft-shoe shuffle that saw him work his way from central to left. He then cut back inside and set it up on his right. His right-foot shot was a perfect bender that set off outside the far post but curled back into the top corner. An absolute peach, and Arsenal lead again at 1-2. Our 100th. European goal we were told by some statto on the box.
Pat nearly put Henry away. Clichy did well again, having a tough match but coping quite well. The travelling Gooners could be heard quite clearly, well done the lads and lasses! ‘By far the greatest team’ ‘We shall not be moved’ a bit previous that one as they equalised from another set piece. Just after Vagner (another Brazilian) replaced Angel. We were rocky on corners all night and they seemed to mainly target us beyond the far post. But the one they scored from was swung a bit further out and headed down for Sergio to tap home. Jens got his hand to it but had been going the wrong way. 2-2 and a very messy goal it was. Oh dearie me I thought, or something similar.
We immediately pressed again but Henry was tripped in what continued to be a stop-start match. Sol was penalised for foot up from a corner, not unreasonably as his foot was up near the player’s ear. Jens was nearly caught out as a Silvinho cross almost got behind him. Henry was tripped again but we wasted the free kick. Reyes, Henry and Pires combined well and I think we started to get on top because we looked the fitter team at this stage. It was still end-to-end as Milosevic won a corner. Edu (ours) went down injured after being trodden on and was stretchered off on a milk float. Vagner had a header at the far post saved. Edu (ours) came back on and then Edu (theirs) was replaced by Pinilla (not sure of the spelling but he was a Chilean striker). Edu (theirs) I thought had been their biggest threat. Kanu replaced Reyes who was still smiling despite an indifferent match.
Even Kanu was making tackles now. Edu’s tackle was less accurate and his studs down a calf saw him pick up a yellow card. Henry broke away and thought he was fouled but his protests seemed to earn him a yellow card also. Dumb really, as we were in the 88th. minute and winning. Cygan and Bentley came on for Freddie and Gael. There were three minutes added time during most of which we played the passing game. Final whistle.
A good win considering we were in Spain, but it has to be said we’ve put in far more convincing performances. But who cares, the result is everything and we have players who can pull the rabbit out of the hat when required. Rabbits or chickens, I’m counting neither but it’s looking good in Europe.