Eduardo (top center) celebrates shootout win with teammates.
Eduardo did not start Arsenal’s second leg fixture in Rome Wednesday night; but he was able to make his 2009 Champion’s League debut. With Arsenal winning the first leg in London 1-0, a draw would have been enough to see the Gunners go through to the quarterfinals. AS Roma had other plans.
Arsenal gave up a silly goal in the 9′ as the defense had a complete mental breakdown letting the ball easily pass through three defenders. With the score still stuck at 1-0 in the 85th minute, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger subbed in Eduardo as the game looked to be going into extra time.
Eduardo had few golden opportunities to put the game away in the 35 minutes he played. With the match ending 1-0 in Roma’s favor, penalties would be taken to decide which team would move on.
Eduardo shot first for the Gunners and blew his penalty opportunity as he kicked the ball down the middle right where the Roma goalkeeper was headed. It was the first poor effort I have seen from Eduardo thus far this season. With Modrić scared to take kicks from the spot and Dudu missing this critical shot; the Turkey loss in Euro 2008 still seems to be looming over Croatian players’ heads.
Arsenal ultimately won the penalty shootout 7-6 and will move onto the UEFA Champion’s League quarterfinals. Other clubs that will be joining them are fellow English sides Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea as well as Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Villareal and Porto.
Meanwhile, Mario Galinović, Ante Rukavina and Panathinaikos took on Villareal in Athens. With the first leg ending 1-1, Panathinaikos would be moving onto the quarters with a win or shutout.
ANTE RUKAVINA REACHING FOR A BALL
After a scoreless first half, Villarreal and Panathinaikos traded goals before substitute, Joseba Llorente, put the game out of reach by scoring a valuable away goal in the 70th minute for Villareal. Galinović was not at fault for either goal.
ATHENS WAS LOOKING LIKE THE POLJUD
Rukavina was a late game substitution and played less than 10 minutes. With Panathinaikos needing two miracle goals at the end, there was only so much Rukavina could do as Villareal cleared the ball every chance they got.
GALINOVIĆ PUMPS HIS FIST AS THE GREEKS SCORE THE EQUALIZER
Panathinaikos might be out of Champion’s League; but Galinović and Rukavina gained plenty of valuable experience along the way. Who knows, maybe we’ll see the Croatian duo together again amongst Europe’s elite next season.
Eduardo is the lone Croatian left in Champion’s League.
The draw for the quarterfinals and semifinals will take place Friday, March 20th.