Arsenal smash Porto, Bayern progress on away goals

Arsenal moved into the quarter-finals of the Champions League on Tuesday after thumping Porto (5-0). Bayern Munich, despite a 3-2 defeat to Fiorentina, have also qualified, thanks to away goals.


AFP - Arsenal swept into the Champions League quarter-finals as Nicklas Bendtner silenced his critics with a hat-trick in a majestic 5-0 win against Porto on Tuesday.

Arsene Wenger's side had trailed 2-1 from the first leg of this second round tie, but Bendtner overturned that deficit within 25 minutes of the return at the Emirates Stadium to set up a 6-2 aggregate victory.
French midfielder Samir Nasri put Arsenal in total control with a sublime solo effort in the second half and Emmanuel Eboue added a fourth before Bendtner completed his treble from the penalty spot.
It was a sweet moment of vindication for Bendtner after the Denmark striker came in for some stinging criticism for his poor finishing in Saturday's victory over Burnley.
While Bendtner's lack of goals had led some fans to call for him to be dropped, Wenger kept faith in the 22-year-old and got his reward as the Dane helped Arsenal keep alive their bid for a Premier League and Champions League double.
Although Porto arrived with a slender advantage, the Portuguese champions had lost their last six matches in London and, even without injured captain Cesc Fabregas, it was Arsenal who dominated from the start.
When Bacary Sagna looped a cross into the Porto penalty area, Andrey Arshavin was left unmarked at the far post and the tiny Russian's header drew a good save from Helton.
It was a warning that Porto failed to heed as another header from Arshavin started the move that led to Arsenal's 10th minute opener.
Arshavin was by far the smallest player on the pitch but he was still able to win a header that found Nasri and he slipped a sublime return pass back towards the Russian.
As Arshavin bore down on goal, Nuno Coelho made a despairing tackle which only succeeded in knocking the ball to Bendtner, who slid across to push his shot into the empty net.
A pair of farcical mistakes from Arsenal goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski had proved decisive in the first leg at the Dragao Stadium, but it was Porto who shot themselves in the foot in the 25th minute.
Fucile had the chance to clear deep in his own half but tried to play his way out of trouble and instead gifted possession to Arshavin with a careless pass.
Arshavin escaped his markers with a clever flick and whipped over a low cross that Bendtner gleefully prodded past Helton for his seventh goal of the season.
Bendtner has never lacked confidence so his belief must have been sky-high by now and he almost completed his hat-trick with a curling strike which Helton pushed away for a corner.
By the time Abou Diaby's header was saved by Helton, Arsenal were playing with such verve and imagination that the tie looked all but over already.
Nasri's elegant play in midfield was more than compensating for the absence of Fabregas and the Frenchman forced a sprawling stop from Helton as Arsenal went for the kill.
Arsenal hadn't overturned a first leg deficit when they played the return at home for over 30 years and they had a scare early in the second half when Nasri had to clear off the line from Cristian Rodriguez's header.
But that only served to spark the Gunners back into life and Nasri extinguished Porto's hopes with a breath-taking goal in the 63rd minute.
Taking possession wide on the right edge of the Porto penalty area, he jinked past three Porto defenders with a mesmerising dribble and unleashed a fierce strike that gave Helton no chance.
Arsenal weren't finished there and, in the 66th minute, Arshavin sent substitute Eboue galloping clear and the defender rounded Helton before slotting home.
There was still time for one more goal as Fucile gave away a penalty with a foul on Eboue in stoppage time and Bendtner stroked in his hat-trick from the spot.
Bayern Munich booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League on Tuesday despite losing 3-2 to a valiant Fiorentina in a topsy-turvy encounter at the Artemio Franchi stadium.
The German side, who had won 2-1 in Munich, went through on the away goals' rule after the aggregate scores finished 4-4.
In the end, Miroslav Klose's controversial goal in the first leg proved decisive.
The home side went two goals up inside 54 minutes through Juan Vargas and Stevan Jovetic before Bayern captain Mark van Bommel's strike on the hour mark began a flurry of superb goals.
Jovetic grabbed his second with a solo effort but man-of-the-match Arjen Robben broke Viola hearts with a stunning 30-yard strike.
After the late and controversial drama in Munich in the first leg, the match began tentatively with a string of misplaced passes as the sides struggled against a strong gale.
Vargas tested Hans-Jorg Butt after five minutes with an audacious 40-yard free kick but it was the German side who settled better with Franck Ribery and particularly Arjen Robben causing danger down the wings.
Fiorentina, backed by a vociferous home support as well as the wind in the first half, had created little until the 28 minute when Marco Marchionni picked the ball up 30 yards out and instantly let fly.
A surprised Butt fumbled to Vargas who somehow outmuscled Daniel Van Buyten and, from a tight angle, found the top corner with his favoured left foot.
Bayern should have equalised six minutes later when Bastian Schweinsteiger's deep header found its way through the heart of the Viola defence to Robben 15 yards out.
The Dutchman's left foot shot was true but a flying Sebastian Frey threw himself backwards and brilliantly tipped the Dutchman's shot onto the bar and over.
With Bayern needing a goal, the pace noticeably quickened after the break.
Alberto Gilardino had a glorious chance to double the lead five minutes back on the pitch but shot weakly eight yards out allowing Butt to save.
Marchionni had been getting plenty of the ball down the right and from another cross on 54 minutes Gilardino backheeled delightfully into the path of the onrunning Jovetic, who drilled home from 10 yards for 2-0. It set off a flurry of goals.
Ribery, largely anonymous until the hour mark, squared the ball for Mark van Bommel to fire unerringly into the corner from 20 yards for 2-1, to put the aggregate scores at 3-3.
Four minutes later though and Fiorentina were ahead again.
The dangerous Jovetic began a run from deep, played a one-two with Gilardino before shrugging off the ineffectual Van Buyten and slipping the ball expertly under Butt for a superb solo goal.
Robben matched the skill after 66 minutes. As brilliant as he had been in the first leg, the Dutchman cut in from the right and let fly from 25 yards, arrowing the ball into the top corner for 3-2 and 4-4 on aggregate.
The Viola tried to react but it was Bayern who looked the more likely to score and used their experience to close the game out.


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