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Eduardo's double fires up Gunners

ARSENAL striker Eduardo da Silva described his return to club football in which he scored two goals against Cardiff City in the FA Cup on Monday as "the best day of my life."

Eduardo made his comeback nearly a year after his leg was broken in a tackle. He scored the first goal in Arsenal's 4-0 win over Cardiff in a fourth-round replay and later converted a penalty after a foul in the area.

"I couldn't imagine that I would play like that," Eduardo said. "For one year, I worked hard. (It was) the best day of my life. Now I know I can play again like before."

He scored in the 20th minute with a header after fellow forward Carlos Vela's cross from the left found him in front of goal. Eduardo fell to his knees in celebration and he kissed Vela on the forehead while his other teammates surrounded him.

The Brazilian-born forward, who moved to Croatia when he was 15, also kissed his wedding ring, saying the goal was "for my family, for my wife, my daughter."

In the 60th minute, Cardiff midfielder Gavin Rae brought down Eduardo in the penalty area and referee Mark Halsey pointed to the spot. Eduardo drilled the ball past goalkeeper Tom Heaton. He nearly had a hat-trick a few minutes later but Heaton did well to save.

That was Eduardo's last touch of the game and Robin van Persie replaced him in the 67th minute to a standing ovation from the crowd at Emirates Stadium.

Eduardo ran over to Arsenal fitness coach Tony Colbert after scoring the second goal and embraced him, a testament to the Croatian international's gratitude to those who helped him make his comeback.

"He was like my second father," Eduardo said. "We spent a lot of time together. This goal was special for him."

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who signed Eduardo from Dinamo Zagreb in 2007, said the striker came off with a minor hamstring strain and made it clear he would be cautious not to overplay him.

Monday was Eduardo's second topflight game, having played for Croatia in a friendly against Romania last week and set up the winning goal in a 2-1 victory. It has been a long road to recovery since his left fibula was fractured and ankle dislocated after a tackle by Birmingham's Martin Taylor on February 23, 2008.

The injury was so horrific that some broadcasters refused to show replays of the incident.

Eduardo, who turns 26 on February 25, went back to Brazil after his injury to begin his recovery and later returned to England. His dream return has given Wenger new attacking options as he seeks to lift their Premier League campaign.

Wenger, whose side is fifth in the league, 12 points behind leaders Manchester United, said Eduardo's return gave him new possibilities as they try to close the gap in the league and progress in the Champions League and FA Cup.

"We'll know at the end of the season how important it (his comeback) is, but I'm very happy to have him back," said the Frenchman. "He can play as a striker, on the flank, behind the striker, up front on his own. That is important for us."

With striker Emmanuel Adebayor sidelined for the rest of this month with a hamstring injury, Eduardo's return is timely.

"We need players of his (Eduardo's) intelligence," said Wenger. "He has shown unbelievable strength mentally and he acted like there was never a doubt in his head."


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