WTTGT Reporter: Tashan Deniran-Alleyne
Udinese 1 – 2 Arsenal
Arsenal progressed to the group stages of the UEFA Champions League after coming from behind to secure a 2-1 win in the return leg against Udinese.
Ahead of the crucial game, most talk was surrounding the transfer of Samir Nasri to Manchester City earlier in the day, so Arsène Wenger decided to retain Emmanuel Frimpong in midfield with Gervinho replacing Andrei Arshavin in attack.
Arsenal began the first-half well; in fact both teams started at a high tempo, with Gervinho getting into a couple of promising positions for the visitors but just failing to find a teammate on both occasions. At the other end Udinese twice hit the post through Pablo Armero and their chief tormentor, Antonio Di Natale.
The game had an end-to-end feeling as van Persie and Walcott were both denied by brilliantly by the Udinese goalkeeper, whilst Wojciech Szczęsny denied Di Natale at the near post. It was the home team who struck first, though, to level the tie as Di Natale looped a header over Szczęsny into the net. Ten minutes later, Armero sent an effort over the bar as the Italians stepped up the pressure.The first half ended with the aggregate score level and all to play for in the second half.
Wenger decided to make a bold change at the start of the second half, withdrawing the defensive-minded Frimpong and replaced him with the more attack-minded and experienced Czech, Tomas Rosicky. The move paid off as Arsenal equalised 10 minutes after the restart through van Persie as he turned in Gervinho’s cut back to give them the all important away goal.
Minutes later Udinese were handed a lifeline with a penalty, but Szczęsny pulled off a stunning save to preserve the advantage. The save seemed to spur the Gunners on as Walcott finished the tie with a cool finish late on.
With Champions League progression secure, Arsenal can know use this result to kick-start what has been a shaky start to the season.
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