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FOOTBALL

Fabregas fires Arsenal cup charge

LONDON, England -- Cesc Fabregas and Thierry Henry gave Arsenal a dramatic 2-0 home victory as nine-man Juventus self-destructed in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal on Tuesday.

Mauro Camoranesi and Jonathan Zebina miss the return after red cards and ex-Arsenal star Patrick Vieira's booking also rules him out of next Wednesday's clash in Turin.

Spanish teenager Fabregas gave Arsenal a 40th minute lead off Henry's pass and returned the favor by setting up the skipper to score on 69 minutes.

Arsene Wenger's side, who knocked out Real Madrid in the last round, were convincing winners and will feel their moment for a serious tilt at the trophy has finally come.

"It was everything you wanted," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told ITV. "We played very well defensively, played the football we wanted to play, scored two good goals and didn't concede.

"We still have a lot to do but its a good start."

After a tight first 30 minutes, Arsenal gradually took the upper hand in terms of possession but failed to make it count with their final pass.

The move for the opening goal began when Robert Pires robbed Vieira and fed the ball to Henry whose threaded pass allowed Fabregas to swivel and fire past a static Gianluigi Buffon from the edge of the area.

Former Juventus man Henry very nearly added a second soon after when he broke through down the left side but his angled shot across the goal stayed wide of the far post.

Cushioned shot

He went close again after the break when a cushioned shot was smartly turned round for a corner by Buffon.

Further chances inside the area went begging for Fabregas and Alexander Hleb as Arsenal drove forward, before Henry's luck finally came good.

Fabregas was put through and, with Buffon at his mercy, the midfielder unselfishly squared the ball for the French striker to score into an empty net.

Juventus, well on course to retain their Italian league title, barely mustered a shot all night and fell apart in the last five minutes with the two red cards and some wild tackles.

"We deserved to lose the game," said Juve coach Fabio Capello.

"Up until the first goal it was quite balanced but we gave away too much in the second half without being dangerous at all.

"I feel for Patrick Vieira because we never gave him a chance to celebrate."

As in their 1-0 first leg win over Real Madrid, Arsenal should have had more goals and Wenger will hope to avoid a repeat of the nervy return against the Spaniards when his side held on desperately at the end of the goalless return leg.

"That's the regret we had tonight as I think one more goal was in the game tonight," he said.

"They missed (Alessandro) De Piero and (Pavel) Nedved who can come back but I'm confident we can do well."

Henry added: "We did what we had to do at home, didn't concede a goal, that was vital, but it will be difficult."

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