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Roma 1-0 Arsenal (agg 1-1)

Arsenal win 7-6 on penalties

By Ian Hughes

Arsenal players celebrate after winning the penalty shoot-out
Arsenal players celebrate after winning the penalty shoot-out

Arsenal suffered defeat on the night but beat Roma 7-6 on penalties to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.

Roma struck on 10 minutes to level the aggregate score when Juan slotted in after shambolic Arsenal defending.

Manuel Almunia saved well from Rodrigo Taddei before Julio Baptista missed from eight yards, while Kolo Toure headed over at the end of normal time.

But Arsenal sealed their progress when Max Tonetto blazed his spot-kick over the bar in sudden death.

Gunners substitute Eduardo had missed the first penalty to hand Roma the advantage but Mirko Vucinic struck an awful effort to put the teams neck and neck once more.

Six faultless penalties later and it was sudden death.

Tonetto stepped up to take the 16th penalty and smashed the ball over to send Arsenal into the last eight of the competition.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger had insisted before the match that his side would not sit back and defend their 1-0 lead from the first leg.

And with the same line-up that secured that advantage at the Emirates a fortnight ago, the visitors started confidently.

Nicklas Bendtner and Robin van Persie set about attacking down the flanks but neither could find a team-mate in the box.


And on 10 minutes the balance of the match swung dramatically as Arsenal paid the price for abysmal defending.

Francesco Totti's cross ran between William Gallas and Toure, who left the ball to each other.

And after the ball went through the legs of Taddei, an unmarked Juan tucked the ball in at the far post.

It served to completely knock the composure from Arsenal's stride, while Roma grew in confidence.

Suddenly the intense whistling from the home fans that accompanied Arsenal's possession seemed to affect them as time and again passes went astray.

Instead, Roma's Brazilian playmaker Taddei started to dictate the rhythm of the match, with able support from Totti and Vucinic

Two saves from Almunia in the space of a few seconds kept Arsenal in the game, as he beat away Marco Motta's drive and then tipped Taddei's low shot around the post.

Arsenal, at times defending like a team of strangers, looked vulnerable every time Roma came forward.

In contrast, the Italians were rarely threatened and headers from Van Persie and Abou Diaby failed to trouble keeper Doni.

Roma were also in control in midfield, despite missing the suspended Daniele De Rossi.

But the hosts were almost caught out when Emmanuel Eboue broke down the right, only to cross inches too far in front of Bendtner.

With the tie in the balance, both sides seemed reluctant to force the pace.

Arsenal had a glimpse of goal as Diaby sent a low drive fizzing past the right post, but chances were at a premium.

Then when a gilt-edged opportunity fell to Roma substitute Baptista, the former Arsenal man embarrassingly fluffed his shot.

The introduction of Theo Walcott and, later, Eduardo freshened up Arsenal, and they came forward with a little more purpose.

And in injury time, Toure had a chance to send them into the quarter-finals but he headed over the bar.

The first half of extra-time was scrappy and largely uneventful.

Van Persie volleyed over the bar in just about the only effort on goal and already there was the impression that a penalty shoot-out was looming.

That feeling remained in the second period of extra-time, with Roma tiring and Arsenal still out of sorts.

Walcott shot straight at Doni, Totti fired an effort high and wide and Baptista optimistically appealed for a penalty.

Spot-kicks, though, were not far away - and it was Arsenal who were to end jubilant, and perhaps a little fortunate after a lacklustre display over 120 minutes.

Roma: Doni, Motta, Diamoutene, Juan (Julio Baptista 28), Riise, Brighi (Montella 120), Pizarro, Tonetto, Taddei (Aquilani 90), Vucinic, Totti.
Subs Not Used: Artur, Loria, Ribeiro, Menez.

Booked: Pizarro, Motta.

Goals: Juan 10.

Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Clichy, Diaby, Denilson, Eboue (Walcott 74), Nasri, Bendtner (Eduardo 85), Van Persie.
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Djourou, Gibbs, Vela, Song Billong.

Booked: Diaby.

Att: 81,000

Ref: Manuel Enrique Mejuto Gonzalez (Spain).

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see also
Wednesday's football photos
11 Mar 09 |  Football
Arsenal 1-0 Roma
24 Feb 09 |  Europe

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