Welbeck treble helps Arsenal demolish Galatasaray
Danny Welbeck scored three times to help The Gunners beat Turkish side 4-1 on Wednesday.
LONDON - Danny Welbeck's hat-trick in a 4-1 thrashing of a feeble Galatasaray side helped ignite Arsenal's Champions League campaign in a lop-sided Group D clash in north London on Wednesday.
The England striker pounced twice before halftime and again after the break to virtually double his career Champions League tally and continue Galatasaray's tale of woe in England where they had not won in nine previous visits.
Alexis Sanchez ended the match as a contest before halftime as Galatasaray's resistance crumbled, although a second-half red card for Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny slightly tarnished the 18th anniversary of manager Arsene Wenger's arrival at the club.
The night belonged to Welbeck, however, as the former Manchester United bit-part forward justified Wenger's faith in signing him in the recent transfer window.
"Hopefully this hat-trick will help him start to gain confidence," Wenger told reporters.
"I didn't know he was so quick, honestly. I knew he was quick but he can be electric, he has great pace."
Welbeck, who was a five-year-old boy when Wenger took charge of Arsenal, helped the Gunners make light of several injuries with a commanding display of front-running that terrorised Galatasaray's overstretched defence.
He had wasted a couple of chances in the 2-0 defeat by Borussia Dortmund a fortnight ago but was far more clinical on home turf, scoring twice in the opening 30 minutes.
Galatasaray's supporters showed plenty of passion at The Emirates, keeping up a cacophony of sound for most of the first half and launching numerous flares onto the pitch.
Their team, however, were harmless, providing the perfect opposition for an Arsenal side outclassed in Germany and needing three points to bolster their hopes of reaching the last 16, a feat they have managed every season since 1999-2000.
It was mainly all Arsenal though and after a brief lull, the home side went in front when the Welbeck curved his run to meet a slide-rule Sanchez pass and plant a shot through the legs of Fernando Muslera.
After 31 minutes Welbeck showed his power, seizing on a bouncing ball, held off a flimsy challenge from Felipe Melo and bounded clear to calmly slot his shot past Muslera.
That sparked the Gala fans into launching their firework display in the corner where they were wedged, at least five red flares landing on the playing surface causing the game to be temporarily halted as skipper Wesley Sneijder appealed for calm.
It took Welbeck only seven minutes after the break to complete his first senior club hat-trick, finishing off a flowing passing move with a sublime deft flick after a clever pass by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
"My last hat-trick was for Manchester United's reserves and I'm trying to score goals," he said. "I am getting into positions and it is paying off."
A runaway Arsenal display was checked in unlikely circumstances on the hour when Szczesny rushed off his line and took out Burat Yilmaz, giving referee Gianluca Rocchi little option but to send the Pole off.
"He tried to come out and was fraction late so he conceded the penalty. It can happen," Wenger said.
After Sanchez was substituted to make way for Arsenal's replacement keeper David Ospina, clearly much to his annoyance, Yilmaz converted the penalty.
Dortmund top the group with six points, followed by Arsenal (3), Galatasaray (1) and Anderlecht (1).
BASEL STUN SLOPPY LIVERPOOL
Swiss champions FC Basel claimed another English Premier League scalp when they took advantage of a sloppy and lethargic Liverpool to win 1-0 with a Marco Streller goal in the Champions League on Wednesday.
The raw talent of Basel youngsters Ahmed Hamoudi, Derlis Gonzalez and Breel Embolo, combined with the experience of the wily Streller and a fervent 36,000 crowd, was too much for Liverpool, who were toothless in attack and shoddy at the back.
Streller's 52nd minute goal came after Liverpool completely failed to deal with a corner and, although goalkeeper Simon Mignolet managed to save the ball, Streller was on hand to turn in the rebound.
Steven Gerrard summed up Liverpool's evening when he wasted two early set pieces with poor delivery and the skulking Mario Balotelli was ineffective in attack, apart from a thundering 30-metre free kick which bounced off Vaclik's chest and fell to Lazar Markovic, whose shot was deflected away.
"The goal was far too soft, and it's not the first one," Liverpool coach Brendan Rodgers told reporters. "It's a very disappointing goal to concede after all the training ground work we do.
"We never got going in the first 25 minutes and didn't make the passing combinations. We started the second half well, went close on a couple of occasions and conceded a soft goal."