By Randy Osae
For only the second time in history, Arsenal ensured a Champions League semi-final berth in resounding fashion at the expense of Villarreal tonight.
Clinical touches from Walcott and Adebayor, then glossed by Van Persie’s conversion from the penalty spot, secured an easy route through to the last four.
The riches of a once rueful campaign is gradually being undermined.
The opening stages were very typical of on-song Arsenal. The Gunners had their flair, the Emirates Stadium had its voice and so the early advantage was deserved.
Within ten minutes, Theo Walcott produced a sublime chip right on the money after Fabregas’ penetrative flick had set him through.
Arsenal had really set themselves through in this quarter-final.
They owned the ascendancy and Van Persie’s poised free-kick nearly made it count dividends before Adebayor’s follow-up was almost helped home by Robert Pires with Gonzalo Rodriguez making a dubious off-line clearance.
But with the magic of away goals, Villarreal could still turn the tables against the home side at any given time. Rossi caught Arsenal in sixes and sevens before Pires shot with positive sight at goal but saw his targeted effort blocked away from a muddling Fabianski.
Godin hinted of a lingering yellow submarines when he headed just over from a corner during injury time of the first-half. Manuel Pellegrini’s men were resurrecting after the interval until one of various Van Persie provisions finally found Adebayor arriving right in danger zone.
The Togolese clinically side-footed the ball past Diego Lopez to send an already electrified Emirates Stadium into ecstasy.
Arsenal were booking a semi-final ticket now.
There was confirmation of a passage into the last and fantastic four of the competition when Godin was adjudged to have tripped down a sprinting Walcott.
Sebastian Eguren appeared most sickened by referee Wolfgang Stark’s decision, but could not win over the middle-man in the dispute and as result, was dismissed by a second caution.
And when Van Persie expertly converted the spot-kick, the daylight between the Gunners and yellow submarines beamed as bright as Villarreal’s out-fit.
Walcott, Van Persie and Adebayor were withdrawn for Diaby, Denilson and Bendtner respectively before former north London darling, Robert Pires absorbed some sympathy as well as appreciation from the warm crowd at the ground.
For the Gunners though, they might just be escalating the plaudits stage by stage in this competition with a familiar Mancunian trial to follow.