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September 18, 2009

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Eduardo snatches late winner

ARSENAL'S Eduardo da Silva, playing two days after his diving ban was lifted, celebrated his reprieve by scoring a late winner in a dramatic 3-2 Champions League win at Standard Liege on Wednesday.

The Brazilian-born Croatia striker netted from close range with nine minutes to go, three minutes after Thomas Vermaelen had leveled for the Londoners.

It meant Eduardo went from villain to hero because he was also at fault for Standard's first goal as the Belgians went 2-0 up inside five minutes. Eduardo had been due to sit out his team's Group H opener after being suspended for two games for deceiving the referee when he won a penalty in a qualifying tie against Celtic.

The ban, which infuriated Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger and focused the spotlight on diving, was lifted by UEFA on Monday.

"When you are a big club you cannot accept such a defeat so it was important to come back and win tonight," Wenger told reporters.

"We were caught cold by a Standard team that came out firing. It could happen to anyone but to come back and win showed a great team."

Holders Barcelona kicked off with a goalless draw at Inter Milan in the night's top match while Dynamo Kiev scored three times in the last 19 minutes as it came from behind to beat the Russian side Rubin Kazan 3-1.

Five-time European Cup winner Liverpool beat Hungarian outsiders Debrecen 1-0 at Anfield, Olympiakos Piraeus defeated AZ Alkmaar by the same score and Olympique Lyon overcame 10-man Fiorentina 1-0.

Liege, crushed 0-7 at home by Arsenal in a European Cup Winners' Cup match in 1993, started as if it intended to avenge that result.

It went ahead after two minutes when Eduardo tried a back-heeled flick on the edge of the area but the ball fell to Eliaquim Mangala, who fired past third-choice goalkeeper Vito Mannone.

Milan Jovanovic then won and converted a fifth-minute penalty to double the lead for the group stage debutant.

Nicklas Bendtner pulled one back for Arsenal on the stroke of halftime.

Second half Arsenal pressure ended with Belgian international Vermaelen scrambling the ball over the goal-line in the 78th minute following a Cesc Fabregas free-kick.

Another lapse in Liege's concentration allowed Eduardo to turn and fire home Fabregas' corner three minutes later.

Liverpool struggled past unsung Debrecen in Group E after Dirk Kuyt scored in first-half stoppage time, sliding in the rebound after keeper Vukasin Poleksic palmed away a shot by Fernando Torres.


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