Posted: 4:37 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013
By Kevin McCauley
Thanks to some brilliant attacking play and a surprisingly poor performance by the hosts, Arsenal appear to be heading to the group stage of the Champions League. Fenerbahçe never provided much opposition for the Gunners, who ran out very comfortable 3-0 winners.
Arsenal got a bit of a scare in the 15th minute, when Jack Wilshere got involved in a 50-50 challenge and went down hard. He grabbed his ankle and appeared to be limping badly when he came off the pitch, but he was able to re-enter the game and looked to be moving well at the end of the second half.
Laurent Koscielny also picked up an injury and he was not as fortunate as Wilshere. He was the victim of a high boot from Pierre Webo in the 30th minute and the kick opened up a large cut on Koscielny's face. It was bad enough that he couldn't be stitched up quickly and he had to be substituted for Carl Jenkinson. Webo only received a yellow card for his dangerous play, perhaps getting off easy.
The Gunners were dominant to close the half, but didn't manage to test Volkan Demirel. Crosses came into the Fener box constantly in the five minutes before the teams headed into the locker room, but they didn't result in any shots on target.
Fener had their first real chance of the match in the 49th minute after a quick start to the second half. Dirk Kuyt found himself with plenty of time and space at the top of the box to take a shot, but he hit his powerful effort over the crossbar. Unfortunately for the Turkish side, their early second half dominance didn't last long.
Kieran Gibbs scored a vital away goal for Arsenal in the 51st minute, finishing off an excellent team move. Aaron Ramsey started it with a through ball to Theo Walcott, who appeared to be winding up a shot from a narrow angle inside the box. Instead, he crossed low to the far post where Gibbs was waiting and the Arsenal left back smashed a shot into the roof of the net.
Around the hour mark, it became obvious that Arsenal had more than one goal in them. Wilshere was denied from close range after beating multiple defenders by himself in the 62nd minute, but the Gunners didn't have to wait long to double their lead. Aaron Ramsey -- who had an excellent all-around game -- netted his team's second with a low strike from just outside the box. Demirel got his hand do the shot, but couldn't make the stop.
Things got even worse for Fener in the 75th minute, when Walcott was pushed down in the box by Michal Kadlec. Olivier Giroud stepped up and buried the penalty to put his team up 3-0 and all but assure Arsenal's progression to the group stage of the Champions League.
Fenerbahçe: Demirel, Irtegun (Gonul 46'), Yobo, Alves, Kadlec, Belozglu, Topal, Meireles (Potuk 82'), Kuyt, Webo (Emenike 62'), Sow
Arsenal: Szczesny, Gibbs, Koscielny (Jenkinson 33'), Mertesacker, Sagna, Wilshere, Ramsey, Cazorla, Rosicky, Walcott (Monreal 87'), Giroud (Podolski 82')
Goals: Gibbs (51'), Ramsey (64'), Giroud (77')