By Adam Clark
Jeremie Aliadiere hit a brace as Arsenal Reserves maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a comfortable 2-0 win over Portsmouth at Barnet on Wednesday night.
The Frenchman struck on 34 and 64 minutes on a night that saw Brazil under-19 captain Denilson make his first appearance on English soil.
All eyes were on the 18-year-old midfielder following his deadline day move from Sao Paulo and he didn't disappoint with a vibrant, commanding display. Other notable inclusions in a solid line-up included Theo Walcott, Justin Hoyte, Alexandre Song and Fran Merida, the star of last week's 2-2 draw with Tottenham.
The home side dominated from the off and Merida and Denilson tried their luck from range in the opening 10 minutes.
Eight minutes later centre back Matthew Connolly tip-toed past three players but couldn't get enough on his shot to trouble Portsmouth goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown.
Merida sent another long-range effort over the bar soon after and Theo Walcott missed a double chance. His downward header bounced off Ashdown's body but he couldn't keep the rebound down.
On 22 minutes good work from Song allowed Walcott to cross for Aliadiere who got in front of his marker but failed to hit the target with a header. The two forwards combined again 12 minutes to give Arsenal the lead. Walcott did well to keep the ball in play on the by-line and produced a pinpoint cross for the unmarked Aliadiere to head home.
The Frenchman nearly doubled his tally on the edge of half-time but his driven effort from 25 yards whistled wide.
Portsmouth looked a little brighter after the break and on 55 minutes they finally worked Arsenal keeper Mart Poom who adjusted well to smother Scott Harris' deflected free-kick.
However Portsmouth's revival was brief and, on 64 minutes, Aliadiere doubled his and Arsenal's tally cutting in from the left before giving Ashdown no chance with a crisp shot across goal.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men on 69 minutes when Nathan Annan saw two yellows in quick succession, the second for a rash challenge on Aliadiere.
Arsenal looked to take immediate advantage of the extra man and when Jay Simpson cleverly dummied Merida's freekick Song's shot stung Ashdown's palms and went over.
Aliadiere had a chance to complete his hat-trick in injury time when Mark Randell teed him up with a clever free-kick from which he unleashed a shot that dipped enough to bring a last-ditch save from Ashdown.
Subscribers can watch highlights of the game on Arsenal TV Online from Thursday afternoon.
Denilson makes his reserves bow
Our Brazilian gets an early touch
Aliadiere nets the opener
Alexandre Song powers forwards
Fran Merida shows off his skills
Theo Walcott gets close attention
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- Merida 76
- Denilson 82
- Walcott 45
- Aliadiere Yellow Card
- van den Berg 76
- Efrem 82
- Simpson 45