From the 1st to the 69th minute, it was just oh so easy for Barcelona.
At the end of the 90 minutes the possession stat read – Arsenal 35 % 65 Barcelona.
I, along with many others, was expecting a tight game between two of Europe’s best footballing sides at the Emirates. That simply didn’t happen for most of the game. With half an hour gone, Arsenal had yet to test Valdes at all in the Barca goal.
If it hadn’t been for Manuel Almunia in the Arsenal goal, Ibrahimovic could have had a hat-trick before half-time. Almunia made 3 or 4 magnificent saves in the first-half, however he was finally beaten just after the break when Ibrahimovic gave Barca a deserved lead when he calmly lobbed the ball over the advancing Almunia.
The Swedish striker doubled his and Barca’s tally for the night when he blasted home from all of 18-yards to completely silence the Arsenal faithful. At that point, even the most ardent Arsenal fan will admit that the tie looked dead and buried.
Barca were in complete control and Arsenal attacks were few and far between, however Arsene Wenger’s decision to bring on Theo Walcott changed the game. Walcott, who has been labelled by many as not good enough to wear the Arsenal shirt, added some much need pace into the game for the home side. It was Walcott who got Arsenal’s first, when he broke down the right hand side and finished nicely past Valdes.
Arsenal completed the comeback when Cesc Fabregas finished from the spot after he was taken down in the area by the Barca captain, Carlos Puyol (who saw red for the challenge). In the end, Gunners fans will no doubt be delighted with the result because even though they were completely outplayed for large parts of the game, they somehow have a 2-2 draw to take to the Camp Nou next week.
Overall, I must admit I was impressed with Barca. They were an absolute joy to watch for most of the game and how they didn’t win is beyond me.