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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

UEFA Champions league, PSV 1-0 Arsenal

Harsh lesson for Arsenal
Edison Mendez punished wasteful Arsenal with a stunning strike to clinch a 1-0 win for PSV Eindhoven in the first leg of their Champions League first knockout round tie. Arsene Wenger's side enjoyed total control at the Phillips Stadium for an hour, but Ecuador midfielder Mendez's moment of magic gave PSV the edge going into the return at the Emirates Stadium on March 7.

"From tonight we're in a tricky situation because we'll have to score two goals without conceding," Wenger admitted, "but I feel from the game we have seen tonight we have enough confidence and belief that we can achieve that."

PSV were depleted by the loss of their top scorer, Jefferson Farfán, because of a swollen left foot but his presence would have provided little assistance to a PSV side who spent almost the entire first half defending. Wenger had criticised the PSV manager, Ronald Koeman, for employing "negative" tactics when Arsenal twice drew with his Ajax side in the 2002-03 competition and the Frenchman was frustrated again last night.
"I felt that they started the game to play a nil-nil. It was important to score the first goal and afterwards they defended even more," he said. Koeman rejected Wenger's claim and said: "It was a deserved result and we are in a fantastic position."

Match Analysis:
Tomas Rosicky
almost gave Arsenal the perfect start when he squeezed in a shot from a tight angle that Gomes got a hand on before Carlos Salcido scrambled the ball off the line as Henry prepared to pounce. Jens Lehmann was only called into action once in the first 25 minutes and even then he easily dealt with a speculative drive from Mendez.

should have broken the deadlock in the 43rd minute when Rosicky and Aleksandr Hleb combined to set him up, but Henry's shot from 12 yards was too close to Gomes. Henry's frustration at that miss was evident as he fought to win possession moments later and sent a curling shot just past the far post.

PSV striker Arouna Kone had been well policed by his Ivory Coast compatriot Kolo Toure for long spells, but he escaped early in the second half to meet Salcido's cross with a volley that went narrowly wide of the far post.
That near-miss sparked PSV into life and they took the lead in the 61st minute thanks to a moment of pure class. Kone's lay-off gave Mendez the chance to drive in a raking 30 yard strike that skimmed off the turf past Lehmann, who will feel he should have done better after getting a hand to the ball.

Arsenal had been punished for failing to turn their dominance into goals, but they responded well and Cesc Fabregas' fierce effort forced Gomes into a superb tip-over. But Wenger's side were left to rue those early misses as PSV held on for their first win over Arsenal in five attempt.

Arsenal's lost chance and PSV's goal: