Post-Match Report

SC Ritzing 2 - 5 Arsenal: Match Report

05/06 Ritzing 2-5 Arsenal


Ritzing, Austria
Pre-season Friendly
Pre-season Friendly
2 5

Arsenal maintained their 100 percent pre-season record with a 5-2 victory at SC Rizting on Sunday

Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry gave the visitors a two-goal cushion by the quarter-hour. Jose Antonio Reyes added a penalty in the 35th minute but Roman Pajer replied shortly afterwards to keep the home side in the game. Alfred Schiffer's solo strike sparked some Austrian optimism 15 minutes from time, but Alexander Hleb and Sebastian Larsson had assured Arsenal's superiority by the end.

This game was rarely a contest after that opening salvo but Arsène Wenger will be surely content with another solid workout for his squad. They will find tougher opposition in Amsterdam and Cardiff before the Premiership campaign starts in earnest but the side are doing everything that is expected of them against these lesser lights and looking sharp while they are doing it.

It was party time in Ritzing this afternoon. The locals were rightly proud of the draw they achieved in this fixture two seasons ago and quietly were hoping for the same. Or maybe something better.

Since that tie, Ritzing's ground had been developed and it now looked like a very presentable Conference or lower League stadium. The population of this small town near the Hungarian border is barely 900 so it smacked of the highest ambition to build a stadium that could accommodate 5,200. But that is exactly what they had done. They had risen to Austrian division three and had their eyes on the high echelons.

For Arsenal, triallist Philippe Christanval recovered from his ankle knock to resume his place in the Arsenal defence after missing the 5-0 drubbing of Weiz. Alex Song, another player Wenger is considering taking on, once again started midfield.

As in both their pre-season games so far, Arsenal quickly established a stranglehold. In the 10th minute, Henry hooked a ball into the path of the unmarked Bergkamp at the far post and the Dutchman steered home his shot.

Seven minutes later, Ljungberg sent a high, teasing cross to far post and Henry hung in the air before steering a header back across the keeper and into the far corner.

Ritzing had offered little up to this point but that did not stop the home crowd screaming their support when they got anywhere near the Arsenal goal. Their first real encouragement came in the 33rd minute when Vicktor Kornaj's swirling cross was met by combination of Roman Pajer and Christanval. The Ritzing striker got the better of the aerial duel and, as Mark Howard came out, managed to steer his side past the keeper. It trickled past the post as well.

Arsenal's response was immediate. Bergkamp's first-time ball was handled by the sliding Markus Pachammer just inside the area and Reyes sent the keeper the wrong way from the spot.

The visitors looked all set to cruise but then, in the 38th minute, Ritzing scored. Slaven Lalic sent over a corner from the right and Bergkamp inadvertently headed the ball nicely for Pajer to volley home ferociously from eight yards.

The striker nearly grabbed another two minutes later but Justin Hoyte got his body in the way. Before the break, Pachammer had to nod off the line from Henry and Ljungberg produced an outrageous flick over a Ritzing defender in the area but failed to get his shot away.

Wenger made his usual six substitutions at half time. Henry's departure meant Robert Pires took the captain's armband.

Like so often, the changes made the team disjointed. After a quiet opening, two of the new introductions, Hleb and David Bentley, spurned good chances.

Frankly the game dozed off in the middle of the second half. It was roused with 20 minutes left when Hoyte had to harry the ball from Goran Batar after the striker looked to be clear.

In the minutes that followed Bentley had a shot well saved by Christan Stibi then, from the resulting corner, Franz Pohweiser kicked a drive from the same player off the line.

Fifteen minutes from time, Ritzing struck again when Alfred Schiffer weaved through in the right hand channel before driving shot under the body of rookie Vito Mannone.

The contest seemed alive again. But, as it turned out, only for a few minutes as Hleb showed even better footwork to fool the keeper and tap into the empty net shortly afterwards.

Substitute Seb Larsson added a header in the dying seconds.

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