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PSV profit as Arsenal miss target

Published: Thursday 8 March 2007, 11.30CET
Yet again Arsenal FC were dominant without finding the goals to match their attractive build-up play, as PSV Eindhoven ended their last hope of a trophy.
by Paul Saffer
from Arsenal Stadium

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Published: Thursday 8 March 2007, 11.30CET

PSV profit as Arsenal miss target

Yet again Arsenal FC were dominant without finding the goals to match their attractive build-up play, as PSV Eindhoven ended their last hope of a trophy.

That PSV Eindhoven are in Friday's UEFA Champions League quarter-final draw is down, maybe more than any other factor, to their simple desire to make it happen.

Likely result
If Arsenal FC always looked likely to turn their 1-0 first-leg defeat into an aggregate victory, PSV never ceased to play as if that idea was anathema to them - and no one more so than the man who recovered from scoring an own goal to convert the clincher, defender Alex.

Style change
Arsenal, in the long-forgotten days before Arsène Wenger turned them into one of football's most swashbuckling outfits, had a certain reputation. "Boring" was the common jibe; efficient the more appropriate epithet. Their UEFA Cup Winners' Cup runs of the mid-1990s were perhaps the epitome: Arsenal seemingly impossible to beat, always able to score when they needed and keep the opposition at bay. This season, the opposite has been the case.

Home comforts
The north Londoners seem so dominant at their new stadium, creating opening after opening, but - especially when Thierry Henry is off the pitch - the goals their exuberance warrants do not always arrive. PSV, on the other hand, showed that just because they are strolling through the Eredivisie with ease, does not mean they cannot excel with their backs against the wall. Arsenal had all the ingredients for success. Kolo Touré, Cesc Fabregas and Denilson - making his UEFA Champions League debut less than a month after his 19th birthday - contributed an array of clever touches and driving runs, while Emmanuel Adebayor was a strong presence up front.

PSV industry
The goal that levelled the tie, though, would win nothing for artistic impression, the luckless Alex deflecting a Denilson corner into his own net on 58 minutes. It was unfortunate for the Brazilian, whose determination had shown the way to his team-mates in the first half. Even Ibrahim Afellay, thrown into action shortly before half-time for the injured Arouna Koné, slotted in well, never willing to give up when beaten by an Arsenal run. Such PSV industry gained its rewards. And the ultimate reward was Alex's. Perhaps the pain of what had happened less than half an hour before lifted him those extra centimetres to head the goal that took PSV through. In the opening period, he had hit the heights defensively; with seven minutes to go, he did so to devastating effect.

Encouraging omen
Since the draw with Arsenal that gave PSV their first run to the knockout stage of this competition two seasons ago, they have become no strangers to the later rounds, reaching the semi-finals that term. Having taken out a team as talented as Arsenal, they can think of at least matching that.

Last updated: 27/11/12 11.59CET

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