x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Arsenal take away goal advantage back to Emirates

Emmanuel Adebayor scored a second-half equaliser to give Arsenal a priceless away goal at Villarreal.

VILLARREAL // Emmanuel Adebayor scored a second-half equaliser to give Arsenal a 1-1 draw at Villarreal and a valuable away-goal after the first leg of their Champions League quarter-finals match last night. Villarreal's defence had largely contained the threat from the Togo forward, but in the 66th minute the Arsenal striker chested a long ball from Cesc Fabregas up into the air and then beat goalkeeper Diego Lopez with a perfectly executed bicycle kick for his fourth goal in the competition this season.

"It was a great goal. It was unexpected because the 'keeper was surprised. He probably thought he was in the wrong position to score but he managed to turn that into an advantage for him," the Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger lauded. "It puts us in a good position." Marcos Senna's swerving shot from range had given Villarreal the lead with 10 minutes on the clock. Giuseppe Rossi's fancy footwork drew several Arsenal players towards him before he fed the Spanish international Senna, who was unmarked and had time to pick his spot and score past Manuel Almunia.

The play flowed back and forth, and Villarreal substitute Guille Franco twice failed to convert chances in the last 10 minutes, while Senna just missed the top corner with a rising drive from 25 yards out. "I think it was rather unjust to come away with just a draw," the Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini said. "We created at least four clear chances in the first half and I don't think Arsenal created more chances apart from the goal during the 90 minutes."

Still, Wenger believed Arsenal had the momentum going into the return leg on April 15. "I believe we have created the momentum without a doubt. I'm confident," the Frenchman said. "We'll be on our toes and completely focused but we have such a desire to go through at Emirates (Stadium) that I'm confident we can do that." But Arsenal will most likely be without defender William Gallas and goalkeeper Almunia after both players limped off in the first half.

The French defender Gallas damaged knee ligaments after colliding with Rossi and could out for the remainder of the season, while Almunia suffered a recurrence of an ankle sprain after coming out of his area to clear a long ball and is likely to miss the return leg. "We have to assess it tomorrow but the first signs don't look too good," Wenger said. *AP