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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 December 2006, 16:59 GMT
Arsenal 6-2 Blackburn
By Nathan Mercer

Alexander Hleb and Gilberto Silva
Alexander Hleb and Gilberto scored two of Arsenal's goals
Three goals in the last eight minutes handed Arsenal a majestic victory over Blackburn at the Emirates.

Shabani Nonda put Rovers ahead from the spot after three minutes before Gilberto Silva headed home a corner.

Alexander Hleb then side-footed home with a sublime finish before Emmanuel Adebayor made it three from the spot.

Nonda pulled one back with an overhead-kick before Van Persie added two more with neat finishes while Mathieu Flamini blasted home a sixth.

Rovers started confidently and were rewarded for their early endeavour after three minutes when David Bentley broke into the Arsenal box and was awkwardly hauled down by Kolo Toure.

Nonda stepped up to confidently dispatch the resulting spot-kick and for a brief spell, Blackburn looked good value for their lead.

Former Gunner Bentley, perhaps with a point to prove to his former boss, stung the hands of Jens Lehmann from distance on three occasions and shone on his return to north London.

But he and his Rovers team-mates quickly became overrun in midfield with Cesc Fabregas, Hleb and Gilberto pulling the strings as Arsenal took control.

And the warning signs were there for Arsenal's equaliser when Toure headed against the bar via a Blackburn deflection from Fabregas' corner.

From the resulting van Persie corner from the right, the unmarked Gilberto rose to guide his header into the left corner.

606 DEBATE: Give your thoughts on the match

Buoyed by their quick response, Arsenal pushed forward and sliced through Rovers with breathtaking ease.

On 23 minutes the Gunners went ahead with a fine build-up and neat finish by Hleb.

Adebayor played in the Belarussian who danced past Andy Todd and delicately side-footed home from five yards.

Arsenal had their third two minutes later through a penalty of their own.

Van Persie latched on to Adebayor's chipped through-ball and was felled from behind by Lucas Neill.

After consultation with his assistant, referee Howard Webb pointed to the spot and Adebayor sent Brad Friedel the wrong way.

Robin van Persie
Van Persie claimed a brace with two precise finishes

Andre Ooijer did well to prevent Arsenal scoring a fourth shortly after the break when he deflected Tomas Rosicky's shot on to the bar.

Blackburn worked hard and pulled themselves back into the game as Nonda acrobatically fired home with an overhead kick after Matt Derbyshire's header had cannoned off the underside of the bar.

The goal rocked the Gunners' back line and Blackburn pressed forward with vigour in search of an unlikely equaliser.

Arsenal's swaggering flow was quickly replaced by a jittering stutter in the last 10 minutes and Jens Lehmann pulled off a fine save from Morten Gamst Perdersen's volley.

But van Persie settled the Arsenal nerves with a composed run and finish from the left-hand edge of the box.

And he was on hand to complete a delightful move with four minutes left with Fabregas the archetict providing an exquisite cut-back for the Dutchman.

Substitute Flamini capped an impressive Arsenal performance by firing home a loose ball at the end.


  • Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger:
    "Both teams showed great football going forward and the score was too big for them because at 3-2 we were wobbling slightly.

    "But overall we played some great football and showed marvellous technique.

    "Many teams have got away with a point playing a lot less football than Blackburn have and they came here and played.

    "But I was pleased with the way we responded with character and great self-belief."

  • Blackburn manager Mark Hughes:
    "In the second half we had a real go at it and at 3-2 Arsenal were wobbling, but the fourth goal knocked the stuffing out us.

    "We didn't come here just to nullify Arsenal's attack, we came here to win the game and maybe that has cost us today.

    "But we didn't put in a performance worthy of a 6-2 defeat. There was some good performances on our side but in the end we gave ourselves too much to do."


    Arsenal: Lehmann, Hoyte, Toure, Djourou, Clichy, Hleb (Walcott 88), Fabregas, Silva, Rosicky (Flamini 71), Adebayor (Julio Baptista 89), Van Persie.
    Subs Not Used: Almunia, Senderos.

    Booked: Van Persie, Hleb, Adebayor.

    Goals: Silva 10, Hleb 23, Adebayor 27 pen, Van Persie 85, 88, Flamini 90.

    Blackburn: Friedel, Neill, Todd, Ooijer, Gray (Derbyshire 63), Emerton, Savage, Kerimoglu, Pedersen, Bentley, Nonda.
    Subs Not Used: Brown, Mokoena, Henchoz, Peter.

    Booked: Neill, Emerton, Savage.

    Goals: Nonda 3 pen, 69.

    Att: 59,913

    Ref: H Webb (S Yorkshire).

    SEE ALSO
    Saturday's football photos
    23 Dec 06 |  Football


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