Heading into this evening’s Group D clash between Galatasaray and Arsenal the fate of both clubs had already been settled with the Turks eliminated and Arsene Wenger’s side safely through to the Round of 16.
Such situations make predicting the result of a match difficult but for those of you who thought Arsenal might take it easy you were way, way off. The Gunners were in top form Tuesday night, shellacking Galatasaray 4-1 through a number of nice goals, none finer than Aaron Ramsey’s worldie from 30 yards out. Lukas Podolski also netted twice for Arsenal while Wesley Sneijder scored a late consolation goal for Gala.
The blast was one of two goals from the Welshman after engineering a third minute opener for Podolski to hammer into the top corner from a tight angle. Eight minutes later some fine work from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain resulted in Ramsey cooly slotting home from inside the area. Then, just before the half-hour mark, Ramsey flung his dagger, springing on a corner clearance from Galatasaray to crack a left-footed strike into the top corner from well outside the box.
While Arsenal cruised, Galatasaray did manage eleven shots in the half, two more than the Gunners. That said, only two of the Turks’ attempts went on target, hardly troubling Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczęsny seeing time in his first match back from injury.
In the second half, American fans were treated to a nice present when highly-touted youngster Gedion Zelalem came in for Matheiu Flamini in central midfield. Joining Zelalem, who may recieve US citizenship in the future, was fellow 17-year-old Ainsley Maitland-Niles with Wenger providing a look at the future of Arsenal.
Throughout the half it was the home side who looked the more likely to score, with Arsenal content to keep their 3-0 lead. The Gunners were lead by a pair of strong defenders in Per Mertesacker and Mathieu Debuchy, who made some key interceptions and blocks throughout the half but couldn’t prevent Sneijder’s 89th minute free-kick from finding the back of the net. Then, with the last kick of the game, Podolski picked the ball up from Joel Campbell, beat several Galatasaray defenders and dispatched smartly from close range.
Arsenal: Szczęsny, Debuchy (O’Connor ‘77), Mertesacker, Chambers, Bellerín, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey (Maitland-Niles 46’), Flamini (Zelalem 46’), Podolski, Sanogo, Campbell
Goals: Ramsey (11’, 29’), Podolski (3’, 90 + 2′)
Galatasaray: Bolat, Telles, Balta, Kaya, Çamdal (Hamit Altıntop 46’), Melo, Sneijder, Bruma (Olcan Adın 77’), Çolak, Bulut, Yılmaz (Yasin Öztekin 46’)
Goals: Sneijder (89′)