Danny Welbeck’s hat-trick in a 4-1 thrashing of a feeble Galatasaray side helped ignite Arsenal’s UEFA Champions League campaign in a lop-sided Group D clash in north London on Wednesday.
The England striker pounced twice before halftime and again after the break to virtually double his career Champions League tally and continue the Turkish side’s tale of woe in England, where they have not won in nine previous visits.
Alexis Sanchez ended the match as a contest before halftime as Galatasaray’s resistance crumbled, although a second-half red card for Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny slightly tarnished the 18th anniversary of manager Arsene Wenger’s arrival at the club.
However, the night belonged to Welbeck, as the former Manchester United bit-part forward justified Wenger’s faith in signing him in the recent transfer window.
“Hopefully, this hat-trick will help him start to gain confidence,” the French coach told reporters.
Welbeck, who was five when Wenger took charge of Arsenal, helped the Gunners make light of several injuries with a commanding display of front-running that terrorized Galatasaray’s defense.
He wasted a couple of chances in the 2-0 defeat by Borussia Dortmund on Sept. 17, but was far more clinical on home turf, scoring twice in the opening 30 minutes.
The Istanbul side’s supporters showed plenty of passion at the Emirates Stadium, keeping up a cacophony of sound for most of the first half and launching numerous flares onto the pitch.
Yet their team were harmless, providing the perfect opposition for an Arsenal side outclassed in Germany and needing three points to bolster their hopes of reaching the last 16 — a feat they have managed every season since the 1999-2000 competition.
Galatasaray did have the first chance of the night, when Brazilian Alex Telles did well down the left and played a clever one-two with Blerim Dzemaili before pulling a shot wide.
It was mainly all Arsenal though and after a brief lull, the home side went in front when the Welbeck curved his run to meet a slide-rule Sanchez pass and plant a shot through Fernando Muslera’s legs.
After 31 minutes, Welbeck seized on a bouncing ball, holding off a flimsy challenge from Felipe Melo and bounding clear to calmly slot his shot past Muslera.
That sparked the Gala fans into a firework display in the corner where they were wedged, with at least five red flares landing on the playing surface causing the game to be temporarily halted as skipper Wesley Sneijder appealed for calm.
It took Welbeck only seven minutes after the break to complete his first senior club hat-trick, finishing off a flowing passing move with a sublime deft flick after a clever pass by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
In the other Group D match, Colombia international Adrian Ramos struck twice after Ciro Immobile had opened the scoring in the third minute as Dortmund swept to a 3-0 victory over RSC Anderlecht.
Dortmund finally shrugged off their Bundesliga struggles when Japanese playmaker Shinji Kagawa sent Italy’s Immobile through for an easy goal.
Ramos then stabbed home a pinpoint deep pass from Lukasz Piszczek in the 65th for the second and followed up with a show of close control in the 79th.
The win left die Schwarzgelben with six points from two games, three ahead of the Gunners in second, with Anderlecht and Galatasaray on one point each.
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