Didier Drogba grabbed two late goals to clinch the Emirates Cup for Galatasaray on Sunday.
Arsenal seemed to be cruising to victory before Ignasi Miquel was adjudged to have bundled over the former Chelsea striker with 12 minutes left. The Ivorian scored from the spot himself.
However if that strike was debatable, Drogba’s second oozed quality. Three minutes from the whistle, he controlled Wesley Sneijder’s long ball into the area with one touch and buried a shot past Wojciech Szczesny with a second.
It was a huge turnaround as Arsenal bossed the first half and might have taken the lead after only 45 seconds thanks to debutant Yaya Sanogo.
In the end Theo Walcott’s meandering cross-cum-shot would break the deadlock five minutes from the half-time whistle.
Galatasaray were much better after the introduction of the big names at the restart. And their late goals were a disappointment for an Arsenal side had that had been unbeaten in pre-season.
However, overall, this was a happy return for Emirates Cup after missing out in Olympic year - two full houses, plenty of goals, a meaningful final game and few Mexican waves.
It was also proper preparation for the season ahead.
Wenger’s side saw seven changes from the one that had grabbed two late goals to draw with Napoli on Saturday. Apart from Sanogo, the most notable of those saw Santi Cazorla play for the first time in pre-season.
And the new boy would nearly provide a dream start. with his first touch, he weaved beyond the last defender to momentarily cut through. However his shot was easily saved by Fernando Muslera.
On first impressions, the striker is big, powerful yet mobile front-runner – solid raw materials to excel as Arsenal’s pivot player in attack.
Sanogo’s early effort would be the highlight of the opening quarter as Emirates Stadium basked in lazy Sunday afternoon sunshine.
However they were awoken in the 20th minute when Aaron Ramsey picked out Walcott racing through. The Englishman cushioned the ball deftly and his chip evaded the keeper only to drift past the post.
To be honest, the game returned to its slumber after that. Arsenal were neat, tidy and on top but did not trouble Galatasaray. The visitors mustered even less.
Seven minutes before the interval Walcott broke the deadlock with a goal out of nothing.
Gibbs’ left-wing cross was cut-out as Sanogo threatened. The Englishman took the corner short and when the ball was returned to him he curled a regulation cross into the six-yard box. However it was missed by the Galatasaray defence, Per Mertesacker and keeper Muslera before finding the far corner. A strange kind of goal for a strange kind of game.
Sanogo nearly added a second immediately but his shot was blocked. The striker had been flagged offside anyway.
Galatasaray made significant changes at the break – Drogba and Sneijder both entered the fray.
It was no surprise – they had offered very little in the first half.
As usual, the Ivorian had a huge impact. His powerful forward play caused Arsenal major problems during his spell at Chelsea and the first 15 minutes of the restart had suggestions of déjà vu.
However his only effort on goal was easily saved by Wojciech Szczesny while Emre Colak thumped a shot high over the bar.
On the hour Wenger made changes. Oliver Giroud and Gedion Zalalem for Sanogo and Cazorla.
The newly-introduced French striker would test Muslera immediately – first with a fierce volley on the turn, second with a guided header.
However, by now, Arsenal were running out of steam and the visitors were taking over.
Sneijder’s piledriver was batted away by Szczesny at the near post as Galatasaray pressed for the equaliser.
Shortly afterwards they found it when Miquel was somehow adjudged to have bundled over Drogba in the area.
Galatasaray now fancied the win. Seven minutes from time Nordin Amrabat hoisted the ball over the bar from close range following a slick move.
And Drogba would have the final word against Arsenal – yet again – as the trophy went to Galatasaray.
Emirates Cup table
- Gibbs 68
- Ramsey 81
- Walcott 81 Goal!
- Arteta (C)
- Cazorla 61
- Sanogo 61
- Miquel 68
- Zelalem 61
- Akpom 81
- Podolski 81
- Giroud 61
- Bulut 46
- Eboue (C)
- Altintop 46
- Felipe Melo 65
- Baytar 33
- Amrabat 89
- Elmander 46
- Nounkeu 89
- Sneijder 46
- Sarioglu 65
- Hakan Balta
- Gulselam 33 Yellow Card
- Colak 46
- Drogba 46 Goal! Goal!