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Arsenal 5 - 1 Shakhtar Donetsk: Victory and Eduardo's return

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He's 18.  When I was 18, I couldn't even tie a tie correctly. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images).
He's 18. When I was 18, I couldn't even tie a tie correctly. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images).
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1-0 Song 19'
2-0 Nasri 42'
3-0 Fabregas 59' pk
4-0 Wilshere 66'
5-0 Chamakh 69'
5-1 Eduardo 82'

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Arsenal dispatched Ukranian champions Shakhtar Donetsk on a cold and rainy night at the Emirates by a final score of 5-1.  In the process, Arsenal broke Real Madrid's record set in 2002 of 12 goals in the first three Champions League matches by scoring their tenth through fourteenth.  The win sees Arsenal go top of Group H with nine points from nine, while Shaktar remain in second with six.

From the outset, this match looked much like the Braga match had.  Arsenal's midfield trident of Alex Song, Cesc Fabregas, and Jack Wilshere rotated around seamlessly, one of the three always staying back to break up play while the other one or two ventured forward in support of the attack.

The Gunners' early chances fell mainly to Marouane Chamakh, but the Moroccan twice failed to connect at the final moment, slipping on the wet nighttime surface.  It would not be long, though, before an opportunity presented itself, the Shakhtar keeper Andriy Pyatov totally failing to handle the ball in a scrum following a corner kick.  After it popped free, Alex Song pounced, tried to Recoba it into the net, and got lucky enough to trickle it over the line.

Shakhtar started playing a little better thereafter, and nearly leveled the scores before halftime, Lukasz Fabianski making a good save from Luis Adriano before punching the subsequent corner away.

It would not be long after that before Arsenal added their second, Alex Song lofting a deflected cross towards Chamakh.  The deflection carried it instead to Nasri, who maneuvered around Shakhtar captain Darijo Srna before rifling a shot home.  2-0, and the break approaching.

The second half begin with Shakhtar probing for a chance again, but Fabianski was up to the task.  Arsenal resumed their normal attack and won a free kick on the right.  In the preparations, referee Svein Moen told the Miners to stop holding so much in the scrum, but apparently they were not listening, as Adriano more or less headlocked Johan Djourou to the ground in the box as the kick came in.  Moen pointed to the spot, Fabregas stepped up, and it was 3-0.

Denilson came on for the captain soon thereafter, the Manchester City match looming on the horizon on Sunday.  Shortly after he came on, Eduardo came on for Adriano, and the Emirates, as one would expect, were happy to see their former favorite take the field.

Arsenal, however, did not change a thing.  Wilshere continued to drive the attack (he completed 73 of 75 passes he tried today), and he would find the net himself after a silky one-two with Tomas Rosicky set him free in the area, a little Vela-chip all that was needed to beat Pyatov.

Four minutes later, and 5-0 would appear, Nasri lifting a through lob over the Miners defense.  Marouane Chamakh ran onto it, took the time to look at the linesman in disbelief that he was onside (and he was), and then forced one into the net.  He looked around again for confirmation, saw no objection, and ran off to celebrate.

At 5-0 with 20 minutes left, Wenger made his remaining changes, Andrei Arshavin and Theo Walcott coming on for Nasri and Chamakh.  The score, however, was not quite decided, as Shakhtar worked a cross in from the right after an Eduardo pass.  The Croatian emerged in the box to receive the return service, and in his way, half-volleyed with his left past a despairing Fabianski.  It was a delicious shot, and no less than the Emirates had come to expect from Edu.  They showed their admiration, applauding his score as much as they had Arsenal's fourth and fifth.

The rest of the game passed without much incident.  The key objectives for Arsenal had been achieved; stay healthy, get a win, move top of Group H, and begin preparations for Sunday in Manchester.