AT THE EMIRATES STADIUM
ARSENAL 1 vs GALATASARAY 2
FORMER Chelsea striker Didier Drogba returned to London yesterday, coming off the bench for his current employers Galatasaray to steal the Emirates Cup from the clutches of host side Arsenal.
On the day that Arsenal fans were given their first glimpse of the club’s sole summer signing so far – French Under-20 international Yaya Sanogo – it was a striker 15 years his elder who grabbed the limelight.
The Gunners were set to win the pre-season tournament with just a dozen minutes to go in final game, leading 1-0 thanks to a Theo Walcott goal shortly before half-time.
But two characteristic moments from the Ivory Coast international, who has an exceptional record of scoring against the north Londoners, turned the game on its head.
In the 78th minute Drogba went down dramatically in the box after a nudge from youngster Ignasi Miquel.
The referee pointed to the spot, and Drogba stepped up to drive the ball past goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.
And 10 minutes later Drogba was on the end of a curled ball in from Dutch star Wesley Sneijder. His first touch wrong-footed Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker, providing space to drill a late winner high into the net – to the delight of thousands of Turkish fans in the stadium.
“He has kept that physical strength and his intelligent game, and he finished well,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said after the game.
“But I must say, we were exhausted in the end, especially Mertesacker who played two full games and has just come back from our Asian tour.”
Asked about the penalty decision, Wenger joked: “The penalty was very, very, very, very, very soft. It was a classic Drogba!”
New signing Sanogo started the game and could have scored with his first involvement, yet his low drive was saved by the goalkeeper after being set up by the industrious Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Sanogo failed to convert a couple of other chances that came his way, and was replaced on the hour mark by fellow Frenchman Olivier Giroud. Yet Wenger stayed upbeat. “Considering he’s just back from holiday, what he did is encouraging,” Wenger said.