Arsenal rallies to top Barcelona 2-1
Robin Van Persie and Andrei Arshavin scored goals in the final 15 minutes to lead Arsenal to a 2-1 win over Barcelona in the first leg of their round of 16 Champions League encounter at the Emirates Stadium today.
David Villa put the Spanish side in front after 26 minutes, but the Gunners put together a strong rally down the stretch to take a one-goal advantage to the Camp Nou for the second leg on March 8.
Lionel Messi squandered a great chance in the 15th minute when he chipped the ball wide of the net from close range with just goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny to beat. But the Argentina international did well to set up the opener 11 minutes later.
Messi slid a brilliant pass between two defenders for Villa, who tracked down the ball inside the penalty area and rolled it underneath the keeper.
Szczesny then needed to be sharp to keep out a close-range effort from Pedro as Barca continued to be the better side in the first half.
However, the home side got back into the game after the break, and when Villa was subbed out of the game for Seydou Keita in the 68th minute, Arsenal went on the attack.
The equalizer arrived in the 78th minute when Gael Clichy lobbed a ball over the top and toward the end line for Van Persie. The Dutchman got to the ball and fired a shot on goal from a tight angle that slipped past goalkeeper Victor Valdes and inside the near post.
It was not a great moment for Valdes, but he could do little to keep out Arsenal’s next goal, which came when Samir Nasri rolled a pass into the path of Arshavin, who curled a first-time effort past the keeper.
On today’s other match saw Shakhtar Donetsk claim a 3-2 win at Roma, giving the Ukrainian side a big edge ahead of the return leg.
Simone Perrotta got Roma off to a good start with a goal in the 28th minute, but the visitors answered with goals from Jadson, Douglas Costa and Luiz Adriano in an 11-minute span to take a 3-1 lead at halftime.
Jeremy Menez was able to pull a goal back for Roma on the hour mark, but the Italian side will have plenty of work to do to advance to the quarterfinals.