A Nicklas Bendtner hat-trick propelled a dominant Arsenal FC side into the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals as they overwhelmed FC Porto in north London.
Trailing 2-1 from the first leg in Portugal, history was against Arsène Wenger's team, who had overturned a deficit at home only once before in UEFA competition – and that in 1978/79. Bendtner's tenth-minute goal helped settle any nerves, however, and he added a second from close range 15 minutes later, Andrey Arshavin playing a key role in both goals. Samir Nasri's brilliant solo strike in the 63rd minute and a cool finish on the break from substitute Emmanuel Eboué put the result beyond doubt before Bendtner completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot with the final kick of the match.
Arsenal were on the attack from the outset and were quickly rewarded. Nasri's inviting pass sent Arshavin scampering through and, though he was denied by Fucile's tackle with Porto goalkeeper Helton also in close attendance, the ball ran free for Bendtner to pop up among three defenders and prod into an empty net. Arshavin, who had earlier had a header saved by Helton, then continued an inspired display by conjuring up Arsenal's second.
Once more Fucile was inadvertently involved, his weak clearance going straight to the feet of Arsenal's Russian playmaker, who promptly dribbled past two defenders before squaring to give Bendtner the simplest of tap-ins. Porto remained a threat, notably with Hulk's incursions from the right and Falcao's presence in the centre. But the momentum was with the home side, who could easily have had a third when Nasri got behind the Porto defence and found Arshavin who could only balloon over the bar.
Bendtner and Abou Diaby forced sharp saves from Helton as Arsenal looked to end the contest before the interval. Porto may have been glad to hear the half-time whistle, but they re-emerged in more determined fashion, with Cristián Rodríguez replacing Nuno Coelho in the middle. The substitute wasted little time getting involved, his low cross setting up Falcao for a shot which Manuel Almunia only gathered at the second attempt.
Beaten on all bar two of their 15 visits to England, Porto were nevertheless threatening a comeback and it needed Nasri's goal line clearance to keep out Rodríguez's glancing header from a corner. Instead, Arsenal settled the game and the tie with two quick goals. Few this season will match Nasri's strike, the midfielder twisting and turning past three Porto players before slamming a shot in off the far post from a tight angle. Three minutes later, Arshavin completed a hat-trick of assists, galloping away on the break following a Porto corner and feeding Eboué, who rounded Helton before steering in.
The goals ended any lingering Porto hopes but the Gunners continued to pour forward, Bendtner narrowly missing out on a hat-trick when he met Bacary Sagna's cross with a powerful header that flew just wide. The Dane made no mistake a minute into added time, however, slotting in his spot-kick after Eboué had been brought down to complete Arsenal's night and equal Porto's record margin of defeat in Europe.