AZ Alkmaar 0-3 Arsenal
Pre-season friendly, DSB Stadion
Friday, August 4, 2006
Gilberto 36, Adebayor 52, Van Persie 74 (pen)
By Richard Clarke in Alkmaar
Arsenal warmed up for their crucial Champions League qualifying tie at Dinamo Zagreb next week with a comfortable 3-0 win against AZ Alkmaar on Friday night.
Goals from Gilberto, Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie saw Arsène Wenger's side complete their pre-season in fine style.
This game officially opened AZ's new DSB Stadion. Having raised the curtain on the Emirates Stadium only a few weeks ago, Arsenal fans know the importance of these occasions. However there was no room for sentiment from the visitors this evening.
Wenger had said this game would be a dress rehearsal for the European qualifying round first leg in Zagreb on Tuesday and there is every possibility his starting line-up tonight is the one he'll use in Croatia.
The manager is almost certainly without Thierry Henry for that game so it was interesting to see him pair Van Persie and Adebayor up front tonight. It was heartening to see both hit the net.
Jens Lehmann is suspended in midweek and has only just returned to training so it is highly probable that, like tonight, Manuel Almunia will deputise.
In defence, Johan Djourou was preferred to Pascal Cygan while Mathieu Flamini took the left back role in the first half and Justin Hoyte in the second. For the record, Tomas Rosicky was absent with a slight groin problem while Theo Walcott was still working his way back to fitness after being sick in Austria.
It was party night in Alkmaar this evening. The DSB Stadion seemed a neat, compact arena with a decent pitch. The Dutch crowd celebrated their new home with booming music before kick-off, drummers, releasing hundred of balloons, stilt-walkers and Mexican waves.
The visitors seemed determined to poop the party in the opening stages as both Djourou and Cesc Fabregas burst through but keeper Joey Didulica rushed out to block.
AZ responded in the 11th minute when David Mendes da Silva collected a corner and drilled a ball across the face of goal. The tumbling Kew Jaliens failed to convert at the far post.
It was an open, fast-paced game with both sides creating chances. Van Persie appeared on the left-side of the area and his low drive was snaffled by Didulica at the second opportunity. Danny Koevermans sent a rising, rasping shot over the bar and, after 28 minutes, Reyes saw a deflected effort travel likewise.
Just past the half-hour mark, Van Persie and Adebayor linked up wonderfully well for the Togolese striker to slide a shot towards the far post.
A couple of minutes later the goal that Arsenal had been threatening finally arrived. Reyes swung a high free-kick to the far post and Gilberto met the ball with a firm downward header. The keeper half-saved the ball and it barely crossed the line. However it was definitely a goal.
Almost immediately, Reyes's shot stung the hands of Didulica at the near post.
Within five minutes of the restart the lead had been doubled. Reyes threaded the ball through to the unmarked Gilberto on the edge of the area. His shot was parried by substitute keeper Khalid Sinouh, but only as far as Adebayor who slotted the ball into the unguarded net. After that, Van Persie produced an incredible effort that beat the keeper and hit the inside both posts before bouncing clear
The goal seemed to spur on the home team rather than the visitors. Former Rangers striker Shota Arveladze had two chances to get his side back into the game. First he slid an effort past Almunia - but also the post. Then he shot over the bar. A minute later Simon Cziommer thumped an effort straight into the chest of Almunia when he might have done better.
However the rally did not last and Arsenal regained control of the game after that. Seventeen minutes from time, Sinouh felled Van Persie in the six-yard box and the Dutchman got up to fire home a confident penalty from the spot.
Arsenal Almunia (Poom), Eboue, Toure, Djourou (Cygan), Flamini (Hoyte), Fabregas, Gilberto (Song), Hleb, Reyes (Aliadiere), Van Persie (Traore), Adebayor (Randall).Copyright 2015 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source