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Fàbregas lights up Arsenal's night

Arsenal FC 6-0 SC Braga
Cesc Fàbregas and Carlos Vela scored twice apiece as Arsène Wenger's side taught the Portuguese newcomers a lesson on their debut.

Arsenal - Braga ©Getty Images

Arsenal FC made it a debut appearance to forget for SC Braga as the north London club displayed all their attacking prowess to get their UEFA Champions League Group H campaign off to a cracking start.

Cesc Fàbregas announced a return to his best form with two goals, the first a penalty after only nine minutes, with Andrey Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh adding to the Portuguese side's difficulties before the break. Fàbregas ensured there was no reprieve shortly after the restart, before substitute Carlos Vela completed the rout with strikes on 69 and 84 minutes.

Arsenal were quickly on the front foot, not allowing the visitors to settle on their first outing in the group stage. Fàbregas and Jack Wilshere immediately struck up a rapport in midfield and the resulting passing combinations cut deep into Braga's resistance.

The Spanish international's through ball put Chamakh in behind the defence and as goalkeeper Felipe came hurtling off his line with a rash challenge, the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Fàbregas converted what he had begun.

Only Felipe's parry denied Wilshere a minute later as Arsenal poured forward again. Fàbregas had provided the pass then as well, while his part in the second goal on the half-hour was sublime, jinking past two defenders before teeing up Arshavin who comfortably beat the goalkeeper at his near post.

If the Gunners had any worries at this stage it centred on the pace Braga could call on up front through Matheus and down the right where Alan had the beating of Gaël Clichy in a sprint.

But they never had the conviction to finish off the occasional promising moment they carved out before the interval, and instead it was Arsenal who struck again, Wilshere's back-heel permitting Chamakh to deepen Braga's woe in the 34th minute.

A Fàbregas header eight minutes after the recess further emphasised the one-sided nature of the contest after Arshavin had dropped a perfect cross into the danger zone. The Arsenal skipper sensed his hat-trick opportunity soon after, but Felipe took the pace off his attempt and the danger was cleared.

Vela had been on the pitch just six minutes when he weighed in with Arsenal's fifth, a delightful chip easily beating the keeper after Arshavin had guided him through. The direct route paved the way for number six, Wilshere finding Fàbregas who invited Vela to roll in his second.