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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Arsenal routs Porto

Bendtner hat trick sends Gunners into last eight

LONDON (AP) Arsenal dismantled FC Porto 5-0 on Tuesday to reach the Champions League quarterfinals along with Bayern Munich.

News photo
Five star: Porto's Falcao skips away from a challenge by Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen during their Champions League second-round, second-leg match on Tuesday. AP PHOTO

Nicklas Bendtner scored the first hat trick of his career to help Arsenal overcome a first-leg deficit in the Champions League for only the second time, while Bayern advanced past Fiorentina on away goals despite a 3-2 loss in Italy that made it 4-4 on aggregate.

Arsenal and four-time European champion Bayern are the first sides through to the March 19 quarterfinal draw in Nyon, Switzerland. Manchester United, AC Milan, Real Madrid and Lyon will try to join them on Wednesday and the other four spots will be decided next week.

Arsenal trailed 2-1 from the first-leg match in Portugal but drew level on aggregate when Bendtner scored in the 10th minute. The Premier League side never looked like falling behind again.

"It will give us a lot of confidence," Bendtner said. "We want to win the Champions League. It's something we haven't done."

Samir Nasri and Andrey Arshavin ran an attacking display that more than compensated for a defense shaky without the injured William Gallas, while Bendtner improved on a display that included several missed chances in Saturday's 3-1 Premier League win over Burnley.

"I hope it will not give him too much confidence," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. "He played well on Saturday but missed chances. Today he had less chances and scored more goals. I hope it gives him the desire to work even harder."

Nasri's pass through the middle cut open the visiting defense and, although Arshavin's attempt to get to the ball was blocked by defender Jorge Fucile and goalkeeper Helton, it fell to Bendtner just inside the area for the Denmark striker to sweep it in for the opener.

Fucile then tried to save a corner deep in Porto's half and instead gave the ball away. Arshavin dodged Fucile's sliding attempt to retrieve the ball and weaved between two defenders before slipping the ball across the six-yard box for Bendtner to tap in completely unmarked for 2-0 after 25 minutes.

Nasri made it 3-0 in the 63rd with a solo effort — beating three defenders, two of them twice, to twist into the area and score with a swerving shot across Helton and in at the far post — before substitute Eboue rounded off a swift counterattack three minutes later.

Arsenal won possession in its own area and Arshavin carried the ball into the opposition half, where he slipped it to the charging Eboue. Eboue took one touch to take it around the goalkeeper and another to bury it.

That matched the score between the sides in last season's group stage, but Bendtner completed his hat trick with an injury-time penalty.

Porto coach Jesualdo Ferreira said he believes Arsenal can win the tournament.

"Arsenal is a team that scored the most goals in the first phase of the competition," Ferreira said. "It's a team with great players."

Bent leads Black Cats

LONDON (AP) Darren Bent hit a hat trick Tuesday to give Sunderland a 4-0 win over Bolton and its first Premier League victory since November.

Sunderland had slipped into danger of relegation after 14 matches without a win but went ahead after 44 seconds through Fraizer Campbell and sealed the victory with Bent's three second-half goals.

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