By Richard Clarke in Szombathely
Eduardo celebrated his first pre-season appearance of the 2009/10 campaign with a classy brace as Arsenal brushed aside Szombathelyi Haladas 5-0 in Hungary on Monday night.
A few days earlier, it had been rumoured that the Croatian striker was injured and would miss the first two months of the season. However he seemed extremely fit and well this evening, firing home a low shot in the 24th minute and a free-kick five minutes before the break.
Nicklas Bendtner also poached a pair before the interval. The great Dane nodded in a delightful cross from Armand Traore in the 17th minute and slotted home a simple second, the fourth for his team, just before half time.
The flood of goals dried up somewhat after the interval but Robin van Persie did add to Arsenal's tally, scoring with a penalty in the 66th minute. He also had a late header ruled out.
Haladas did have a chance for some consolation from the penalty spot seven minutes from time but Brazilian defender Barbosa slipped in his run-up and could only trickle the ball past the post.
It was a slightly comical end to a serious run-out for Arsenal and a very, very straightforward win.
It was a bright and breezy night in western Hungary. The team coach made the winding, hour-long trip from the Club’s Austrian training carrying a team in good spirits.
It had been a week of tough-but-necessary double sessions in practice plus that notable 7-1 thumping of SC Columbia last Tuesday.
However while that side played in Austrian division four, Haladas had finished third in the Hungarian top flight last term and had won themselves a place in the Europa League.
Unfortunately for them, four days before this fixture the Rohonci úti Stadion had witnessed their exit from that competition to Elfsborg in the Third Qualifying Round. Despite that, this was still a significant increase in pre-season standard for Wenger’s side.
The opening stages were cagey. Haladas keeper Daniel Rozsa rushed out to deny Bendtner and, in the ninth minute, captain Peter Toth thumped the ball into the Arsenal net at the far post. However the whistle had long since blown for offside.
Keeper Vito Mannone nearly copied Manuel Almunia’s mistake at SC Columbia when his clearance was charged down by Marton Oross and flew a few yards wide of goal.
The Italian keeper had to rush out again in the 17th minute to deny two breakaway Haladas strikers. It was nearly an immediate response for the home side because, a few seconds earlier, they had fallen behind to the simplest of goals. Traore flew down the left and crossed for the unmarked Bendtner to steer home a header at the near post.
In the 24th minute, Arsenal doubled their advantage when Eduardo found some space in the corner of the area and drove home a low shot off the base of the far post.
Left back Toth seemed the most attacking outlet for the hosts and blasted over an effort shortly afterwards.
However, having barely extended themselves to create a 2-0 lead, Arsenal were playing well within themselves. Eduardo fired straight into the chest of Rozsa and, shortly afterwards, Bendtner would have headed home had he not collided with the Croatian in mid-air.
The duo would become much more cohesive as the end of the first half approached. First Bendtner was fouled five yards outside the area and Eduardo’s low free-kick crept inside the far post with keeper floundering. Then, two minutes from the whistle, Bendtner had time and space on the edge of the area to pick his spot. He chose to beat the keeper with shot into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
It seemed almost cruel bringing on a fresh Andrey Arshavin and Van Persie against a side already 4-0 down. Within a few minutes of the restart, the Dutchman had headed on to the top of the net and the Russian had blasted just wide.
In the 53rd minute, Wilshere got in on the act. The winger scooped a shot over the keeper and back off the bar. A cheeky effort.
Eduardo made way after 62 impressive minutes and Bendtner came back on. Five minutes later the 21-year-old was needlessly felled by Rozsa in the area and Van Persie scored with a perfect penalty into the top corner.
Wilshere nearly nudged home a delightful third but, with 15 minutes left, Haladas did at least threaten a goal. Something they had failed to do since the first quarter of an hour. Wojciech Szczesny pulled off a fine double save from Norbert Lattenstein and Roland Ugrai then tipped over a free-kick from Szabolcs Schimmer.
Normal service was nearly resumed as Van Persie nodded home from Mikael Silvestre’s steepling cross 11 minutes from time. However his effort was ruled out.
Haladas should have troubled the scorers in the 83rd minute when Gallas was adjudged to have impeded Matel Skriba. However Barbosa slipped in his run-up and could only send the ball scuttling past the post.
Arsenal’s goal-hungry pre-season continues.
- Mannoe 45
- Toure 45
- Eboue 45
- Djourou 45
- Traore 45
- Denilson 45
- Song 45
- Eduardo Goal! Goal!
- Bendtner 45 Goal! Goal!
- Szczesny 45
- Silvestre 45
- Gallas 45
- Vermaelen 45
- Senderos 45
- Sagna 45
- Persie 45 Goal!
- Arshavin 45