Arsenal FC gave Sevilla FC a sobering introduction to the UEFA Champions League as the two-time UEFA Cup winners were beaten on their group-stage debut in London.
Cesc Fabregas's deflected first-half shot set the 2006 finalists on their way before Robin van Persie added a second a minute before the hour and substitute Eduardo da Silva rounded off a fine victory in added time. While the Spanish side struggled to produce the swashbuckling form shown in recent Primera División and UEFA Cup campaigns, the Premier League leaders extended their home unbeaten record in the competition to 17 matches.
Sevilla began tentatively, defending in numbers as the hosts dominated possession early on. Daniel Alves and Jesús Navas provided the visitors' principal attacking outlet on the right and the latter had the game's first meaningful shot, firing narrowly over from long range. Arsenal were in the ascendancy, though, and Van Persie stung the hands of Andrés Palop with a fierce right-footed drive having cleverly turned Christian Poulsen.
The Sevilla goalkeeper was soon in the thick of the action again, blocking Mathieu Flamini's low effort. There was little Palop could do on 27 minutes, however, as Fabregas shot from 25 metres and the ball deflected wickedly off Julien Escudé to wrong-foot the Spanish custodian. It was the in-form midfielder's sixth goal of the season and perhaps his most fortuitous.
Kanouté goes close
The breakthrough lifted home fans and players alike and Arsenal instantly pressed forward in search of a second. Kolo Touré headed Tomáš Rosický's corner off target before Emmanuel Adebayor sliced a glorious opportunity wide after surging infield. Sevilla had been on the back foot for much of the first period but Frédéric Kanouté reminded Arsenal of their threat, first drawing a sprawling save from Manuel Almunia with his right-footed attempt then narrowly failing to connect with Poulsen's cross when only the faintest of touches was required.
Van Persie finish
Aleksandr Kerzhakov was sent on for Luis Fabiano at the break as Sevilla shuffled their strike force and Arsenal responded by replacing Rosický with Abou Diaby. The midfielder nearly set up Van Persie with his first touch but the ball ran away from the Dutchman as he took aim. The north London club continued to play with verve and determination and were rewarded with a second goal on 59 minutes, Fabregas whipping over a right-wing free-kick that was flicked on by Adebayor and thumped in by Van Persie.
When Kerzhakov missed a chance to reply instantly, Sevilla coach Juande Ramos played his final cards by introducing Renato and Seydou Keita, yet he then watched both Adebayor and Van Persie go close after fine work from right-back Bacary Sagna. Sevilla committed men forward in the closing stages and were punished in added time when Aleksandr Hleb found Fabregas for a slide-rule pass that was turned in by Eduardo to ensure Arsenal will go to FC Steaua Bucureşti on 2 October in good heart. Sevilla will look to bounce back against SK Slavia Praha.