Sevilla FC joined Arsenal FC in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League after becoming the first team this season to defeat the English Premier League leaders.
Eduardo da Silva fired the Gunners in front early on, but that was as good as it got for the visitors who not only lost their unbeaten record but the Group H leadership as well. Seydou Keita and Luis Fabiano overturned the Croatian international's opener with first-half goals, and Frédéric Kanouté completed the victory with a late penalty. Sevilla will win the section if they match Arsenal's result on Matchday 6, when the UEFA Cup holders travel to SK Slavia Praha and their rivals entertain FC Steaua Bucureşti.
Arsenal's breakthrough stemmed from a mixture of strength, skill and unusually lax Sevilla defending. Nicklas Bendtner found metres of space on the right wing and had time to loft the ball across towards Eduardo, who chested it down, held off Daniel Alves and then slotted past Andrés Palop. At that stage Arsène Wenger's game plan was working like clockwork. Identifying Sevilla's main threat as their trademark surging runs down either flank, Arsenal crowded these channels. So effective was the application of Wenger's template that it took a reciprocal error to turn the tie.
When a long clearance reached Philippe Senderos in the 24th minute he sliced his kick, and from Jesús Navas's probing cross Gilberto's clearance fell sweetly for Keita to run on to and crash a left-foot shot into the top of the net. It was his maiden UEFA Champions League goal, and the first Arsenal had conceded in the group, yet reflected his status as Sevilla's most impressive player this season. The already buzzing atmosphere achieved new highs and the Ramón Sanchéz-Pizjuán crowd roared approval as Sevilla surged forward.
A Gilberto mistake then put Fabiano clear on Arsenal's goal but he dallied and failed. It only delayed his moment in the spotlight. On 34 minutes Navas won a free-kick which Alves put squarely into Fabiano's path and the Brazilian headed in his 16th goal of the campaign. Bendtner almost stemmed the tide ten minutes before the break with a terrific piece of penalty-box work that foxed Palop and Christian Poulsen and resulted in Cesc Fabregas's shot being cleared for a corner.
Barely had the second half got under way, it was clear Fabregas was limping. With so much experience already missing from Wenger's side even the arrival of Tomáš Rosický for the Spaniard was scant consolation. Sevilla bombarded the Arsenal area and between the 58th and 64th minutes Fabiano had two volleys and one header at goal. Then, when Senderos leaned into an Alves cross, referee Eric Braamhaar pointed to the penalty spot for handball only to then consult his assistant, reconsider and award a drop ball to restart play. Braamhaar would later send Wenger to the stands.
With both teams fully committed to getting the victory, it was Sevilla who clinched it when Kolo Touré brought down Kanouté as full time approached and the forward scored coolly from the spot. The only negative for Sevilla were the bookings for Keita and Adriano which rule them out of the final fixture.
©UEFA.com 1998-2014. All rights reserved.