Arsenal break with tradition

Arsenal break with tradition

Arsenal have won the seventh edition of the ABN AMRO Future Cup.  The finals against title holder Anderlecht ended at 0-0, and the match was decided by penalty kicks.  The English team was the one who kept its cool the best.  Arsenal are the third team to win the Future Cup, in addition to Ajax and Anderlecht (three titles each).

Neither team was in especially good form in the penalty kicks.  Only two goals were scored from the first eight shots.  Things improved after that and six in a row were scored.  But then Anderlecht missed.  Arsenal took advantage and shot the winning goal, which led to the English team’s euphoria.

First-time participant Arsenal are the fourth English team to take part in the Future Cup and made a good impression.  The Gunners posted three wins in the group stage, including one against Ajax (2-1).  They beat Barcelona in the semi-finals on penalty kicks.

Anderlecht had had penalty kicks against Barcelona on Sunday.  Both teams ended up in shared first place in pool B, with the same goal balance.  From twelve yards out, the winner of the pool needed to be determined.  The Belgians won the stride.  The following day, Anderlecht were too strong for Ajax in the semis: 2-0.

Last year, it was an Anderlecht – Ajax final, and it was decided after penalty kicks.  It was clear early in the match that another penalty kick series could be in the cards.  In the final game, nothing exceptional occurred.  Both teams had their defense in order, and refused to take big risks, out of fear to play into the opponent’s hands.  The bitter wind made it almost impossible to play good football.

The first half could have been written off.  The second half featured very few opportunities as well, although Anderlecht, with the wind in their back, attempted to break away a few times.  The unavoidable penalty kicks came after one hour.  Arsenal keeper Joao Neves Virginia became the undisputed star by turning away three penalty kicks.

Benfica won the battle for fifth and sixth place.  They beat Ghana’s Right to Dream 3-0.  Red Bull Salzburg were seventh after a 2-1 win against Olympiakos.  Barcelona talent Ricki was selected as the best player of the tournament.  His team had won the consolation finals against Ajax.  Olympiakos were selected as the most sportsman-like team of the tournament.