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Walcott makes point as Arsenal win Emirates Cup

Sports Desk |
Update: 2010-08-02 02:17:02
Walcott makes point as Arsenal win Emirates Cup

LONDON: Theo Walcott made a point to England coach Fabio Capello as the Arsenal winger inspired his side to a 3-2 victory over Celtic that clinched the Emirates Cup on Sunday.

Walcott spent the close-season nursing a bruised ego after being left out of England`s World Cup squad and the winger played as if determined to show Capello what he could have brought to the team.

While it is clearly much easier to shine in a pre-season tournament at Arsenal`s Emirates Stadium than the World Cup, this was the kind of vibrant display that makes Walcott such a formidable force at his best.

He created goals for Carlos Vela and Samir Nasri and played a key role in Bacary Sagna`s strike as well. On this evidence, Capello would be wise to recall Walcott for England`s friendly against Hungary on August 11.

Despite Walcott`s starring role, Celtic nearly snatched a draw as late goals from Daryl Murphy and South Korea`s Ki Sung-Yueng set up a tense finish.

"Theo is determined, highly determined," said Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger. "The season will start in two weeks and I can`t say who will have a great season. But I believe he is sharp physically, he worked very hard and is ready."

Celtic boss Neil Lennon added: "I wasn`t happy with some of our defending. The manner and timing of the second goal just before half-time was poor and that is something we need to address.

"The third goal was just sloppy. But then we had a great comeback and some of the football we played in the last half-hour was fantastic."

With unsettled captain Cesc Fabregas not scheduled to return to training until later this week and Abou Diaby injured, Wenger picked youngsters Jack Wilshere and Emmanuel Frimpong in central midfield, while Manuel Almunia was back in goal after missing Saturday`s game with Milan.

It was Arsenal who seized the initiative as they took the lead in the third minute.

Walcott curled a low cross into the six-yard box and Mexican forward Vela beat Celtic`s unconvincing offside trap to slide his shot past Lukasz Zaluska.

Only a fine save from Zaluska denied Walcott the goal his display deserved when the winger`s fierce free-kick was palmed over.

Wilshere also gave a confident performance and the teenager struck the bar twice in quick succession late in the first half.

Walcott won a corner on the stroke of half-time with another rampaging run and the Gunners increased their lead from Tomas Rosicky`s set-piece as French defender Sagna drove a long-range shot past Zaluska`s weak attempted save.

Wenger sent on new signing Marouane Chamakh and French winger Nasri at half-time and the pair combined with Walcott to increase Arsenal`s lead in the 51st minute.

Chamakh`s backheel gave possession to Nasri 20 yards from goal and he slipped a pass to Walcott, who cut the ball back for Nasri to clip a perfectly-placed shot into the far corner.

Lennon could at least take heart from the way his side fought back ahead of the second leg of their Champions League third qualifying round tie against Braga on Wednesday.

The Hoops, in severe danger of being knocked out of Europe after losing 3-0 in the first leg in Portugal last week, missed a penalty when Georgios Samaras blazed over after Wilshere fouled Marc-Antoine Fortune.

They didn`t throw the towel in and reduced the deficit after 73 minutes when Murphy seized on a deflection to shoot past Almunia.

Ki got Celtic`s second goal when he tapped in Fortune`s cross with seven minutes left but there wasn`t quite time to complete the comeback.

BDST: 1113 HRS, AUGUST 02, 2010

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