Post-Match Report

Amsterdam: Lazio 1-2 Arsenal - Match report

Lazio v Arsenal

SS Lazio -

Amsterdam ArenA
Amsterdam Tournament
Amsterdam Tournament
  SS Lazio
SS Lazio
1 2

By Richard Clarke at the Amsterdam ArenA

Eduardo celebrated the granting of his work permit by scoring the winning goal as Arsenal beat Lazio 2-1 in the opening game of the Amsterdam Tournament on Thursday evening.

Just a matter of hours after the 24-year-old striker's move from Dinamo Zagreb had been rubber-stamped in London by the Home Office, he was scoring a straightforward header against the Roman side in the Dutch capital.

Nicklas Bendtner put Arsène Wenger's side ahead in the 19th minute but Lazio were level just before the break Goran Pandev pounced onto a slip from, ironically, Eduardo.

However soon after the restart the Croatian was left unmarked when Tomas Rosicky's corner found him at the far post. The result was inevitable.

This victory gives Arsenal five points. Like at the Emirates Cup at the weekend, each goal scored adds one point to your tally.

Wenger's side now have a great chance of securing their second Tournament title in the space of a week.

It was a clammy summer evening in Amsterdam. In truth the ArenA was barely a quarter full at kick-off. Arsenal v Lazio was not top of the bill today and the hosts would be on later.

Just before the game, the good news had filtered through about Eduardo. The official seal made this game feel like his debut and it was not the only 'first' on the night.

Arsenal were wearing their red and blue third kit and Philippe Senderos was captaining a first-team game. Both had not happened before.

At 22, the Swiss centre back was one of the oldest outfield players on show for Arsenal - only Eduardo and Justin Hoyte were more senior. In fact this could have been one of the youngest XIs fielded by Wenger outside the Carling Cup.

The manager had played with his formation again. Armand Traore was behind Gael Clichy on the left flank while Alex Song was moved into his more familiar role in central midfield. The Cameroonian had been employed at centre back for much of the pre-season campaign so far.

As for Lazio, they were shorn of the household names of old but they had finished a creditable third in Serie A last season and started this game with purpose.

In the opening minutes, Christian Ledesma hammered a long-range shot into the midriff of Almunia and then Stefano Mauri bulldozered his way to the byline but his dangerous cross came to nothing.

Arsenal's best attacking outlet in the opening quarter was Traore. The second of the full back's curling crosses was the more dangerous, fizzing through the area before Luciano Zauri turned the ball behind for a corner.

But gradually the London side found their feet. Walcott's right wing cross narrowly evaded Bendtner and Hoyte when either could have put Arsenal ahead.

The ball flew to the other end immediately. Goran Pandev fed the ball in from the right and Tomasso Rocchi skipped around the onrushing Almunia to give himself a clear sight of goal. However in doing so he pushed the ball too far and Senderos intervened.

Still, Arsenal now had a measure of control and, in the 19th minute, they took the lead. Clichy cut in from the left and tapped a square ball to Fabregas just outside the area. He let fly and the ball ricocheted off Gugleilmo Stendardo into the path of Bendtner. The Dane still had something to do. However he pulled it off with aplomb, dancing past keeper Marco Ballotta and hammering home a low shot past the covering defenders on the line.

The goal inspired the Romans and they pressed forward for the remainder of the half. But they did not create that much and you sensed it would take a brilliant moment or a mistake to get them on level terms.

It turned out to be the latter. Five minutes from the break, Lazio threw a hopeful corner into the area. The ball ran loose for a second but the alarm seemed over when Eduardo shaped to clear. Unfortunately he slipped and Pandev swivelled to send a low shot past Alumina at the near post.

On the whistle, Zauri sent over a hanging cross from the left and Mauri met it with a firm header. Almunia clutched the ball on the line.

Wenger made two changes at the break - Rosicky for Clichy and Mathieu Flamini for Fabregas. However Lazio continued in the same dominant vein after the restart. Pandev burst through but stumbled at the crucial moment.

However it would be Arsenal who took the lead once more in the 55th minute, Rosicky floated a corner to the far post and Eduardo was left unmarked to steer home the simplest of headers.

Lazio's response was swift. Rocchi fired over a low cross from the left that troubled Djourou at the near post. Ledesma then had a goal-bound shot blocked.

After that Mauri steered a header wide and the sliding Rocchi spooned the ball over the bar.

A stream of substitutions on both sides did little to help the game build momentum. Lazio had enjoyed many opportunities but you always felt Arsenal had another gear in which to move to if they were to lose their lead once more.

However they would have hit cruise control had they converted a simple chance 15 minutes from time. Substitute Robin van Persie fooled the keeper on the corner of the six-yard box and then passed to Rosicky, who was central 10 yards out. He elected to pass to Hoyte rather than shoot and the right back planted his cross shot again the outside of the post.

They were nearly made to pay two minutes later when Gaby Mudingayi cracked an effort again onto the angle of post and bar.

However this day would belong to another striker.

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