Eduardo magic revives Arsenal

Arsenal 3 Burnley 0
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The Independent Football

His full name is Eduardo da Silva. But yesterday he scored a goal of pure gold as Arsenal progressed with an uncommon swagger into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. "A beach goal" was how Arsène Wenger described it. The Croatian striker is Brazilian-born, of course, and it was a Ronaldinho moment straight from the Copacabana from the man from Rio de Janeiro. Or, indeed, a Johan Cruyff finish, reminiscent of a goal struck by the Dutch master for Barcelona against Atletico Madrid back in 1974.

"Surprising" was another one of Wenger's assessments. But no one was as surprised as the Burnley goalkeeper Brian Jensen. The ball beat him in a flash and he didn't move. Rooted. It was all the more extraordinary as Alex Song's clever pass to Eduardo had been floated. Jensen had a clear sight. But then, in an instant, the striker, who had pulled away from his marker, struck with the outside of his heel to volley the ball into the far corner of the net. Sumptuous.

He ran to Tony Colbert, Arsenal's fitness coach, and Wenger explained why. "He kissed him because he has worked so hard – and because he does not want to see him again," the manager said. Nine months have been shorn from Eduardo's career through the horrific injury he suffered against Birmingham City last year and Wenger believes Eduardo has come back stronger. Mentally and, maybe, physically too.

With six changes made to his team, and Cesc Fabregas still injured, Wenger even awarded the striker the captaincy. "It was a tribute to his personality and how he has worked without complaining," Wenger added. "It was," added Burnley's admirable manager Owen Coyle, "an explosive finish from a player of real quality. If I wasn't the manager on the receiving end I would be waxing lyrical about it." Still, he waxed anyway.

This was a feel-good match for Arsenal. They faced, in Burnley, a side committed to giving it a go – not always a philosophy brought by opponents to the Emirates – and scored two other goals of enviable quality. There was also the boon of Theo Walcott's return, after four months out following shoulder surgery, and if he had been match-sharp then the scoreline would have been doubled.

Rather than having a hatful, Arsenal had to content themselves with still being in the hat. They face Hull City in the next round next week and suddenly their season is alive again. On Wednesday come Roma in the Champions League and there is a spring in Wenger's step. "Slowly our players are coming back," he said, "and it's important to keep our targets alive." It's important also to fill a few of those empty seats.

At 57,454 this was the second-lowest attendance of the season, which was hardly a surprise given the faltering campaign, but there was beautiful fluidity in the opening goal as Chris Eagles lost possession and Andrei Arshavin – growing in influence with each game – slipped a simple pass to Carlos Vela. The Mexican nutmegged Clarke Carlisle, sped towards the penalty area and as Jensen hurtled from goal he delicately chipped into the net. It is becoming a trademark finish for Vela and settled whatever nerves were swirling around the stadium.

After Eduardo's goal, the chances racked up. Burnley, not quite playing the 4-3-3 claimed by their manager, poured forward and fell for the sucker punch. Walcott, twice, was clear on goal. He saw a side-footed shot, which lacked conviction, cannon off Jensen's legs and then, foolishly, squared for Robin van Persie, who rolled the ball home but was offside. Eduardo also missed with a simple header while Van Persie miscued a volley.

No matter. William Gallas found Song who took one touch and then backheeled into Emmanuel Eboué's path. It was, even Wenger admitted, a shock when the goal-shy midfielder lashed a fierce cross-shot to beat Jensen and complete the scoring. But such is the new-found confidence soaring through Arsenal.

Burnley, this season's cup giantkillers, who took Arsenal's scalp in the Carling Cup, should have had a penalty, when Johan Djourou brought down Chris McCann. A header by Steven Caldwell clipped the crossbar but it would have made little difference even if, it did, preserve an impressive record of clean sheets (10 in 14 games). Arsenal were through. Their season is back on track.

Goals: Vela (25) 1-0; Eduardo (51) 2-0; Eboué (84) 3-0.

Arsenal (4-4-2): Fabianski; Sagna, Gallas, Djourou, Gibbs; Eboué, Song, Diaby (Ramsey, 71), Arshavin; Vela (Van Persie, 60), Eduardo (Walcott, 71). Substitutes not used: Almunia (gk), Clichy, Bendtner, Bischoff.

Burnley (4-1-4-1): Jensen; Alexander, Caldwell, Carlisle, Kalvenes; Gudjonsson (Thompson, 59); Eagles (Elliott, 54), McDonald (MacDonald, 75), McCann, Blake; Paterson. Substitutes not used: Penny (gk), Mahon, Rodriguez, Jordan.

Referee: C Foy (Merseyside).

Booked: Burnley McDonald.

Man of the match: Song.

Attendance: 57,454.

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