Danny Welbeck’s hat-trick in a 4-1 thrashing of a feeble Galatasaray side helped ignite Arsenal’s Champions League in a lop-sided Group D clash in north London on Wednesday.
The England striker pounced twice before half time and again after the break to virtually double his career Champions League tally and continue Galatasaray’s tale of woe in England.
Alexis Sanchez ended the match as a contest before halftime as Galatasaray’s resistance crumbled, although a second-half red card for Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny slightly tarnished the 18th anniversary of manager Arsene Wenger’s arrival at the club.
The night belonged to Welbeck, however, as the former Manchester United bit-part forward justified Wenger’s faith in signing him in the recent transfer window.
“Hopefully this hat-trick will help him start to gain confidence,” Wenger told reporters.
“I didn’t know he was so quick, honestly. I knew he was quick but he can be electric, he has great pace.”
Welbeck, who was a five-year-old boy when Wenger took charge of Arsenal, helped the Gunners make light of several injuries with a commanding display of front-running that terrorised Galatasaray’s overstretched defence.
He had wasted a couple of chances in the 2-0 defeat by Borussia Dortmund a fortnight ago but was far more clinical on home turf, scoring twice in the opening 30 minutes.
Galatasaray’s supporters showed plenty of passion at The Emirates, keeping up a cacophony of sound for most of the first half and launching numerous flares onto the pitch.