2006-08-23

Important win to reach the Champions League

In a very emotional game, Arsenal edged Dinamo Zagreb 2-1 on Wednesday to assure their participation in the Champions League group stages.

In fact, the visitors went ahead when Eduardo reduced Dinamo's deficit to 3-1 when he fired in in the 12th minute after Kolo Toure's attempted clearance fell into his path.

Midfielder Robin van Persie almost ended Dinamo's feint hopes only to see a shot steered on to the woodwork and to safety.

However, swedish player Freddie Ljungberg's late header and Mathieu Flamini's tap-in saw Arsenal to triumph and a place in Thursday's draw.

There was an air of co-ordinated adventure about Dinamo's play early on as they looked to engineer an unlikely comeback in the second leg of the third round qualifier.

Eduardo thrust in from the left and played the ball wide to Etto before continuing his run into the Arsenal box.

Etto slipped the ball back to his fellow Brazilian and, after Toure could only steer his clearance into the run of Eduardo, the Dinamo frontman pounced to slot in an angled shot.

The Gunners heeded the warning and exerted some pressure to go along with their superior possession and they were only denied by the frame of the goal.

Ljungberg had an excellent chance after Adebayor's knockdown but placed his effort too close to the legs of grateful keeper Turina.

Still, Dinamo remained a threat and Luca Modric went close with a shot across goal and a deflected Etto strike just before half-time.

Arsenal forward Emanuel Adebayor should have put the home side beyond reach after 53 minutes but blazed high from 12 yards.

The match started to open up as the Croatian side became stretched in their attempts to score again and send a ripple of anxiety around the Emirates Stadium.

Wenger's team could not take advantage of the extra space in attack and the manager introduced star striker Thierry Henry.

In fact, Henry's arrival gave his side more of a threat up front and Ljungberg headed in a Van Persie cross in the 77th minute to mark his first game as captain with a goal.

And in the injury time, Theo Walcott then set up his second goal in as many games as he crossed for Flamini to give the Gunners a win in their first European encounter at their new stadium.