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Carlos Vela scores in return for Arsenal

CARLOS Vela made his English season debut memorable by scoring and inspiring Arsenal to victory in the League Cup yesterday.

Mostly sidelined since an ankle injury while on duty for Mexico over the summer, Vela appeared as a second-half substitute striker with just over a half hour to go in the 2-0 win over West Brom at Emirates Stadium.

He scored the second in the 76th minute after Mark Randall's chip hit the bar and Vela collected the rebound and literally walked the ball into the net after West Brom goalkeeper Dean Kiely came off his line.

The 20-year-old Vela was also involved in the first goal, with a sizzling shot in the 68th that Kiely parried. Sanchez Watt collected the rebound and slotted the ball past the 'keeper.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger praised Vela for helping to break the deadlock.

"When he came on, straight away he made a difference because he's dangerous in his control, in his movement," Wenger said. "His class gives you something special."

Wenger said Vela still needs to gain fitness before he can return to regular action in the Premier League, and probably won't include him in the match against Fulham on Saturday. Vela picked up a slight knock to the same ankle he had problems with, moments before the final whistle, but Wenger said it wasn't serious.

Vela was hurt during the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July. He was later injected with a painkiller to play a World Cup qualifier against the United States on Aug. 12, three days before the start of the Premier League.

Vela re-aggravated the injury in the qualifier, and he had been out since. He made a big impact for the Gunners in the League Cup last year, scoring four times, including a hat trick, and played in the Premier League and Champions League. Wenger has likened the left-footed striker to Eduardo da Silva.

Center back Philippe Senderos also played his first game since returning from a season-long loan at AC Milan last season. He was widely expected to leave over the summer after holding talks with Everton, but an injury to teammate and fellow Switzerland international Johan Djourou halted his exit.


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