London, England (Sports Network) – Strikes from Francesc Fabregas and Thierry Henry led Arsenal to a 2-0 victory over Serie A giant Juventus on Tuesday in the first leg of Champions League quarterfinal action.
Former Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira, who returned to Highbury for the first time since joining Juventus in the preseason, was overshadowed by his replacement, Fabregas.
The 18-year-old midfielder opened the scoreboard five minutes before halftime when he found Henry’s pass that he fired low, past Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
Henry then doubled the Gunners lead in the 68th minute after capitalizing on a square ball from Fabregas that went flying into the visiting team’s net.
Moments later, Vieira was issued a yellow card and suspended for the return leg of the tournament after fouling Arsenal striker Jose Antonio Reyes.
He was then joined by teammates Mauro Camoranesi and Jonathan Zebina who were awarded red cards and dismissed from the match minutes before the final whistle was blown.
“It was a great night for us,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. “Before the game we wanted to play well defensively and score goals, and we managed to combine both. I’m very happy with the performance of the team, togetherness, but as well with the fluency, the speed, the technical part of the game we want to play. Overall the technical quality I feel in patches was very high, and shows that the team is getting better and better.”
With its victory, Arsenal will head to Stadio della Alpi with a two-goal advantage, hoping to reach the semifinals for the first time in the club’s history.
“I rate our chances 50-50 to go through, (but) winning the tournament? It’s a long, long way to go,” said Wenger. “I believe we can go through and believe we will finish the job at Juventus but there is still a lot to come, you know. Let’s win on Saturday against Aston Villa.”
Also in Champions League play: Barcelona and Benfica finished in a scoreless affair. The two teams will meet again April 5 at Camp Nou.