Red tide sweeps Porto aside

Bendtner hat-trick and stunning solo effort from Nasri fire Arsenal into quarter-finals of the Champions League
Click to follow
The Independent Football

Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager, expressed his desire to play either Manchester United or Chelsea in the quarter-finals of the Champions League after seeing his team book their place in the last eight with a spectacular 5-0 victory over Porto.

Nicklas Bendtner, who had been ridiculed for missing several easy chances in recent games, scored an unlikely hat-trick as Arsenal won the tie 6-2 on aggregate on a memorable night at the Emirates.

It was the first time Arsenal have won in the Champions League knockout stages after having lost the first leg, and the first time the club have managed a comeback in any European competition since 1978.

Wenger said his ideal draw would be to face either United or Chelsea, as long as both English clubs progress from their respective last 16 ties.

"I have a funny feeling that maybe it is good for us to play an English team because we have not done well against Chelsea, not done well against Manchester United this year and it will be a good opportunity to show that we can do it against them," said Wenger. "If I had choice I would say yes. If we get them we cannot do worse than we did in the championship, we can only do better."

Arsenal totally dominated the opening 25 minutes and went ahead with two goals from Bendtner. The 22-year-old Dane put the home side ahead in the 10th minute in controversial circumstances. The Porto goalkeeper Helton was lying on the turf in pain after taking an accidental kick to the head from Andrei Arshavin, and Bendtner pounced to poke the ball into the unguarded goal.

Bendtner added a second after 25 minutes, a tap-in after a mesmerising run by Arshavin. Samir Nasri added a third with a stunning individual goal in the 63rd minute. The Frenchman picked up the ball wide on the Arsenal right before cutting inside and beating three Porto defenders before dispatching an unstoppable shot past Helton and inside the far post.

Minutes later substitute Emmanuel Eboué brought the stadium to life with a wonderful fourth goal, a flowing move from one end of the pitch to the other than ended with him rounding Helton and scoring from a narrow angle. Bendtner then added a penalty in stoppage time to register his first hat-trick for the club.

Wenger said: "If I don't smile tonight I will never smile. We controlled the game, played our fluent football and had a positive start with early goals which gave us the belief."