Eduardo back with a bang
Arsenal too good for Bluebirds at the Emirates
Last Updated: 16/02/09 11:21pm
Eduardo: Brace for Arsenal
Eduardo scored twice on his Arsenal comeback as the Gunners secured a 4-0 FA Cup fourth-round replay win over Cardiff City.
Arsene Wenger's side were too strong for the visitors and it came as no surprise when Eduardo nodded home Carlos Vela's cross with a firm header on 20 minutes.
The home side doubled their advantage on 34 minutes when Nicklas Bendtner left his marker for dead before guiding home Samir Nasri's corner into the far corner of the net.
Bendtner should have added his second of the game before half-time, but somehow managed to miss an open goal after Tom Heaton could only parry Eduardo's shot.
Eduardo completed his evening's work on the hour mark when he sent Heaton the wrong way from the penalty spot after he was initially brought down by Gavin Rae.
Arsenal, who now tackle Burnley in the fifth round, added the icing on the cake late on when substitute Robin van Persie got his name on the scoresheet from Bentner's well-weighted pass.
In the 13th minute Eduardo - who was making his first start for the Gunners in a year after suffering a horror injury against Birmingham - glanced wide from a Bendtner cross, then attempted to break the deadlock in the most spectacular fashion, trying to lob Heaton from 45 yards.
His hopeful strike drifted wide but not before forcing the keeper into a hasty retreat.
Mopped up the danger
Vela then sent the Croatian free with a first-time pass into the area although Darren Purse mopped up the danger.
Purse again kept his side in it, sliding full-length to smother Bendtner's shot from six yards.
By now an Arsenal goal seemed a formality, with skipper Kolo Toure joining his team-mates in attack, jinking inside two defenders and drawing a sprawling save from Heaton.
And with 20 minutes gone, Eduardo had his goal.
Eduardo drove forward towards the Cardiff box, laying the ball off to Vela before continuing his run to head a hanging cross into the net.
He almost had a second moments later but Bendtner's powerful centre would not fall for the striker, who allowed Roger Johnson to clear.
The overworked Heaton nearly gifted the hosts a second when he spilled Nasri's swerving 26th-minute shot but the ball mercifully trickled wide of the post.
Cardiff battled to fight back but had neither the quality nor the possession to put their opponents under pressure.
Instead they slipped further behind, Bendtner beating two markers to head home a 32nd minute corner.
Chris Burke engineered a Cardiff breakaway three minutes before the break with a tidy run down the right, but Arsenal defended comfortably.
Two stunning saves
Heaton then pulled off two stunning saves, kicking Vela's close-range shot away with an outstretched leg before blocking a point-blank effort from Bendtner who had already hit the post from three yards.
Cardiff looked to be positive as the second period got under way, Jay Bothroyd even pulling off a neat back heel.
Vela continued to catch the eye at the other end of the pitch, though, leaving Johnson dizzy with a weaving run into the Cardiff six-yard box.
To his credit, Johnson recovered to block a shot which would have caused problems at the near post.
Kieran Gibbs, starting at left-back in place of Gael Clichy, surged forward in the 55th minute and his out-swinging cross needed a firm clearance by Purse.
Bothroyd finally gave Lukasz Fabianski something to do between the Arsenal posts, drawing a low save with a decent 20-yard effort.
Vela had a penalty shout turned down by referee Mark Halsey after 57 minutes but Eduardo's appeal was upheld three minutes later following a Rae foul.
Eduardo stepped up himself and slotted home calmly for his second.
Ross McCormack, in an unenviable position fronting the Cardiff attack, hit the wall when a chance, from an inviting free-kick, finally came his way.
Indeed, Fabianski was largely untroubled by Cardiff's players but did appear to be the target of a missile from their supporters.
Eduardo had one opportunity to secure his fairytale hat-trick denied by the impressive Heaton before making way for former Cardiff player Aaron Ramsey.
Fellow substitute Van Persie proceeded to force Heaton into yet another smart save with 11 minutes left, while a third replacement, Amaury Bischoff, also went close.Van Persie, who also hit the post in injury-time, rolled home from Bendtner's assist to make it four in the 89th minute after Cardiff gifted the Gunners possession in the final third.
|Arsenal||Team Statistics||Cardiff City|
|2||1st Half Goals||0|
|15||Shots on Target||1|
|7||Shots off Target||1|