Didier Drogba denied Arsenal and Emirates Cup crown with two late strikes as Galatasaray fought back from a goal down to win the preseason tournament final 2-1.
Theo Walcott opened the scoring as his devious cross found its way beyond everyone and into the far corner, before Drogba scored a penalty and wrapped up victory with a superbly taken winner.
The Gunners lacked the intensity they showed against Napoli in the opening stages but were up against a blunt Gala attack, shorn of its two most potent weapons in Drogba and Wesley Sneijder, who were benched.
Instead, the pair watched as Yaya Sanogo, thus far Arsene Wenger’s only signing this summer, went close to opening the scoring inside the first minute as Felipe Melo conceded possession just in front of his box. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain released Sanogo and although he danced past Semih Kaya, Fernando Muslera was on hand to make a low stop.
A probing run from Aaron Ramsey - a constant theme in the first 45 minutes - asked a question of Jon Moss as Engin Baytar came across to dispossess the Welshman, but the challenge was deemed fair.
Whereas the 2-2 draw with Napoli had an emphasis on Arsenal’s familiar pass and move around the box, the first half saw an emphasis on direct running at the Gala backline.
But it was Ramsey’s excellent 30-yard pass that released Theo Walcott in behind Albert Riera, though his deft flick over Muslera slid inches wide of the near post.
The threat was there though, and although a near 20 minute lull ensued, Arsenal broke the deadlock in the 39th minute. After a low cross almost squeezed through to Sanogo, the resulting corner allowed Walcott the room to swing a cross from the left into the six-yard box. Melo missed his interception, leaving Muslera stranded, sprawling hopelessly after a ball destined for his far corner.
After the break, Fatih Terim’s team continued to look susceptible to balls over the defense and yet another, this time from Mikel Arteta, had Emmanuel Eboue chasing after Oxlade-Chamberlain. The midfielder though, could only draw a sharp low stop from Muslera as he nudged the ball across the six-yard box.
On the hour, Wenger replaced Sanogo with Olivier Giroud, and the Frenchman was the source of the Gunners’ first major chance of the second period as he spun and fired a low drive at Muslera.
Per Mertesacker drew the Uruguayan goalkeeper into a smart save to his right before Sneijder - who came on at halftime with Drogba - gave the Gunners a reminder that their one-goal lead was far from secure with a stinging 25-yard drive that required Wojciech Szczesny to parry away.
With 12 minutes remaining, Drogba won himself a penalty - the emphasis very much on ‘won’ - as he collapsed under what appeared to be the merest of touches from substitute Ignasi Miquel. The 35-year-old took his time over the spot kick before placing the ball low to his right and past Szczesny.
Galatasaray was buoyed by the late strike, and Nordin Amrabat went close with six minutes to go, volleying over from 12 yards on the turn, but the greatest drama was saved for the final five minutes.
Sneijder became increasingly influential in the second 45, and it was his precise daisycutter across the box that found Drogba alone with Mertesacker. The Ivorian’s first touch was sublime, cutting inside his German marker, before slamming a left-footed shot past Szczesny from 10 yards to seal the come-from-behind victory.
- Sports & Recreation
- Theo Walcott
- Wesley Sneijder
- Yaya Sanogo
- Fernando Muslera