Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rhapsody in Red

Eight Is Enough

Arsenal, Bayern Munich Through in Champions League

Although the early brace by Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner titled the pitch the Gunners' way, it was this quixotic endeavor from Samir Nasri that cut the heart out of Porto. It's a wonder that the French Algerian dubbed the "new Zidane" could accomplish so much work in such a confined space, shedding three would-be defenders without actually going anywhere. By shifting his weight and feinting back and then forth, he spun the opposing players like fine silk. And if the dazzling route to the goalmouth weren't enough then his off-the-far-post finish sealed this as the goal of the tournament.

Arsene Wenger's side, playing without talismanic captain Cesc Fabregas, added two more goals before full time was declared to climb out of the 1-2 hole they found themselves in after the first leg in Portugal. This comeback win marks Arsenal's first aggregate victory in the Champions League when trailing after the first leg in decades.

Also booking passage into the quarterfinals yesterday was Bayern Munich, who narrowly edged Fiorentina on away goals - meaning that the total score over two games was equal (4-4) and the winner was Bayern thanks to having scored 2 road goals to Fiorentina's 1 over the course of the home-and-away series. With less than a half hour to play, though, it looked like the Italian club would be through thanks to a 3-1 lead in the second leg (and a 4-3 aggregate edge), but Dutch international Arjen Robben launched a laser into the top corner of the net from distance to see the German side into the Elite Eight.

Up Next:
-David Beckham and AC Milan travel to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United.
-Lyon enters the Bernabeu to try to make good on their 1-0 edge over Real Madrid.