By Richard Clarke
A dazzling late goal from Robin van Persie helped Arsenal beat Inter Milan 2-1 on Sunday afternoon and, as a result, lift the Emirates Cup.
With five minutes to go the Dutchman collected Emmanuel Eboue's pass on the corner of the six-yard area, weaved inside Danielle Pedrelliez and rifled a rocket-shot high into the far corner of the net.
It was a satisfying end to exhilarating weekend of entertainment at Emirates Stadium and the late drama only added to the spectacle for the home fans.
PSG's 3-0 victory in the opening game of Day Two had left Arsène Wenger's side with a simple equation - win the game, win the trophy.
For an hour it looked like a stroll. Arsenal created numerous chances but, in a throw back to last season at Emirates Stadium, failed to convert.
In the 62nd minute they were stunned when David Suazo nodded home after a rare Inter attack. However Alex Hleb equalised five minutes later and then, at the death, Van Persie showed all his ability to hand Arsenal the trophy.
Hopefully it won't be the last this season.
As expected Wenger's side was heavily changed from the 2-1 win over PSG on Saturday. Only five starters from that match kicked-off today's encounter. Jens Lehmann came in for his first appearance of pre-season and Kieran Gibbs, 17, was promoted into the first XI.
He started on the left wing, in front of full back Justin Hoyte with Bacary Sagna continuing his adaptation to English football on the right side. Eboue was on the right side of midfield. Hleb once again offered support to Van Persie.
Emirates Stadium was packed and partying for the final game of this exciting two-day event. In contrast to Saturday, the home side looked very sharp in the opening stages. Gibbs was involved quickly and Van Persie stung the hands of keeper Julio Cesar on the half-hour. Inter were second best. The closest they came was Cristian Chivu's free-kick high over the bar.
As the half wore on, Arsenal began to take a stranglehold. Marco Materazzi felled Eboue near the byline and Van Persie whipped in a free-kick to the near post. It deflected en route and Cesar did well to bat the ball away.
Then, on the half-hour, Hleb fed Gibbs who laid the ball off for Flamini to run on to. The Frenchman's right-foot shot was fierce but too close to Julio Cesar. Arsenal followed up but Eboue's low cross was cut out the near post.
Nine minutes from the break, Sagna's angled low drive was only half-saved by Julio Cesar but Materazzi intervened before Gibbs could pounce. Then, just before the whistle, Walter Samuel illegally halted Eboue's mazy run just outside the area and Van Persie fizzed a curling free-kick inches over the bar.
For once, Arsenal made no changes at the break. As a result they continued to dominate. In the 55th minute, Fabregas sent Van Persie racing into the area with a clever short ball, Chivu appeared to bring him down but referee Mark Halsey waved play on and keeper Francesco Toldo gathered.
To be honest, it seemed a matter of time until Arsenal would score. However, last season had proved that the home crowd can never afford to assume anything at Emirates Stadium.
In the 62nd minute, Cesar sent a hopeful ball into the area from the right and Suazo stole in front of William Gallas to send a header past Lehmann and in off the upright. It was totally against the ball of play.
Arsenal almost equalised immediately. Van Persie danced into the area and it took a bevy of Inter defenders to stop him. The ball ran loose to Eboue who thumped a rising left-foot shot past the angle of post and bar.
As it turned out, the equaliser would come from the next attack.
Eboue fed the overlapping Sagna, who cut the ball back from the right-hand byline. Hleb timed his run perfectly and lashed a shot goalwards. Toldo saved brilliantly but the ball rebounded to the Belarus international who trickled a shot into the far corner.
Suddenly Arsenal had the glint of silverware in their eyes once more.
Hleb has been outstanding and started to make merry down the right flank. With 14 minutes left he crossed low for Van Persie to stab a shot straight at Toldo. Seconds later he found Toure in the area but the centre back dribbled a shot wide.
In the 79th minute, Gibbs was replaced by Bendtner. He got a standing ovation from the crowd and hearty round of applause from his manager. It has been an impressive debut.
Arsenal continued to strive for the winner but as the seconds ticked were away they became anxious. However they kept to their footballing principle and - via Van Persie's cracker- it more than paid off.
- Hoyte 69
- Fabregas 83
- Gibbs 79
- Hleb Goal!
- Persie Goal!
- Traore 69
- Denilson 83
- Bendtner 79
- Cesar 46
- Materazzi 53 Yellow Card
- Samuel 46 Yellow Card
- Solari 63 Yellow Card
- Barwuah 46
- Suazo Goal!
- Toldo 46
- Fatic 46
- Bolzoni 46
- Figo 63
- Pedrelliez 53