Drogba breaks Arsenal hearts again as his brace bags Galatasaray the Emirates Cup
By Oliver Wilson
Some things never change as Dider Drogba struck two second half strikes to give Galatasaray a 2-1 win against Arsenal as the Turkish side claimed the Emirates Cup.
The home side took the lead with a freak strike from Theo Walcott, his cross curling in at the far post to open the scoring. But the man who struck so many times for Chelsea in London was back to his best scoring a dubious penalty before firing home a late winner with two minutes remaining.
The Gunners came flying out of the blocks and could have taken the lead in the opening minute were it not for the save hands of Fernando Muslera, the Galatasaray keeper clutching onto debutant Yaya Sanogo’s strike as the home side looked to capitalise on Felipe Melo’s blunder in possession on the edge of his own box.
Three minutes later the clock end fans were up in arms screaming for a penalty after Aaron Ramsey ploughed his way through the Turkish side’s penalty area before stumbling over the outstretched leg of Aurelien Chedjou, the Cameroonian defenders challenge, thought, went unpunished by referee Jon Moss.
Ramsey caused trouble for much of the first 45 minutes, linking well with all around him and initiating the majority of his side’s advances forward. His urgency on the ball sparked energy into the waves of attack while his passing was pinpoint.
His long ball over the top to Walcott was pinpoint on 19 minutes, only matched by the deft touch the England international used to bring the ball under control. His finishing touch however was not as perfect as he watched his clipped effort sail over Muslera and wide of the target.
A goal, though, for Arsenal was inevitable and, while Ramsey and Sanogo battled hard in the middle of the park, it was a stroke of luck from the wings that produced the opener.
Walcott, receiving the ball on the let flank, looked to whip a cross into a crowded penalty area after a short corner. The 24-year-old’s cross, however, evaded everyone as it bounced mesmerizingly across the face of the goal and in at the far post. Arsenal had their break through five minutes before the half while Galatasaray produced little in the way of tests for Wojciech Szczesny.
Changes came at the interval for Fatih Terim’s side, with Dider Drogba and Weslet Sneijder both coming off the bench. The Turkish side apparently keen to deny their hosts the chance to reclaim the pre-season trophy.
While the Dutchman impact on the game was subtle, Drogba provided a real threat in the final third, his first two chances providing the first real threat to the Arsenal goal, but Szczesny was able to watch one effort fly safely past his near post while the other he clutched gratefully down to his right side.
As the game wore on both sides began to nullify one another, with chances coming few and far between. Substitute Olivier Giroud was able to find space to turn into on the edge of the box but his strike was straight as Muslera who saved comfortably, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain felt he was tripped inside the area by the outstretched leg of Albert Riera. Replays showed the Arsenal man was right to feel aggrieved when his cries for a penalty fell on the deaf ears of the referee.
With 20 minutes remaining Sneijder’s role in the game began to grow as he found more space in the heart of the midfield. The former Inter man lashed a strong effort at the Arsenal goal that Szczesny could only palm away and began to orchestrate the centre of the pitch.
With the visitors growing in confidence an equaliser seemed to be coming and it seemed only fitting that the man who broke Arsenal hearts at Chelsea for so many seasons would deny the Gunners another piece of silverware.
Sneijder, form the left, floated a ball to the back post that evaded the Ivorian striker in the penalty area. Drogba, however, was quick to go to ground under minimal contact from Miquel and, to the horror of the home side’s fans and players, the referee pointed to the spot.
Drogba stepped up and side-footed his strike into the bottom right-hand corner before goading those in the clock end with his arms held aloft.
Still the visitors pushed as Arsenal struggled to create chances and it was the combo of Sneijder and Drogba that brought about a thrilling winner for Terim’s side. A clipped ball from the midfielder fell straight at Drogba’s feet and, with one touch, the striker controlled the ball, skipping past Per Mertersacker before thumping the ball into the top of the net with his left foot two minutes from time.
Boos rang out at the final whistle and few stayed for the trophy celebration as Galatasaray –and Drogba - denied Arsenal the Emirates Cup.