ARSENAL’S place in the group stage of the Champions League looks all but assured after they secured a 3-0 away victory in the first leg of their qualifying play-off tie against Fenerbahce.
Scorers: Gibbs 51, Ramsey 64, Giroud 77 pen
Referee: G Rocchi (Ita)
The Gunners claimed their first goal six minutes into the second half when Kieran Gibbs turned the ball in from Theo Walcott’s low cross.
Thirteen minutes later Aaron Ramsey added another, drilling an effort from outside the box that goalkeeper Volkan Demirel made a hash of trying to keep out.
Walcott was then bundled over in the area by Michal Kadlec and Olivier Giroud converted the resulting penalty.
Although the Gunners lost defender Laurent Koscielny to a facial injury sustained in the first half, it was just the morale-boosting performance Arsene Wenger was seeking.
Wenger had challenged his players to rise above the negativity which followed the 3-1 home defeat to Aston Villa in their Barclays Premier League opener on Saturday and deliver the required performance at the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium. And despite being without several injured players in Istanbul, he got it as Arsenal limited the home side to few openings and silenced the home support.
Ramsey was more than happy with the performance. “It wasn’t the ideal start to the Premiership but we bounced back tonight,” said the Welshman. “We played really well as a team. We’ve been under a lot of criticism of late but it was vital that we stayed switched on and got a great result here, which we did.
“We look very comfortable now going back to the Emirates for the second leg.”
Walcott agreed, although he added a note of caution ahead of next week’s return match. “It felt like, with the tempo of game, we dominated it in the centre of park and if we kept on going at a high intensity we’d get a goal, and we did that,” he said.
“It was three great goals and it’s a great result going to the Emirates now on Tuesday night.
“It’s nice and comfortable but we’ve got to be professional on Tuesday. They’re going to want to come and make it up to the fans for tonight and we have to be ready for that.”