Wenger hails saviour Walcott after Hamburg win

November 22, 2006

Manager Arsene Wenger hailed Theo Walcott after his 15-minute cameo helped to rescue Arsenal from Champions League misery against Hamburg.

The 17-year-old substitute inspired a late improvement in Arsenal's performance which produced two goals in the last seven minutes to secure a 3-1 victory.

His pass put in full-back Emmanuel Eboue to defeat Hamburg goalkeeper Stefan Wachter at his near post just as Arsenal were running out of fresh ideas.

Then the former Southampton player launched a right-wing cross which his fellow substitute, on-loan Brazilian Julio Baptista, headed home for his first Arsenal goal.

Wenger said: 'We will give Theo more games now - because there are so many of them coming up.

'When he came on he provided power and pace - especially when he switched from the left to the right. And it helped us master Hamburg physically.'

Walcott's contribution was timely, as captain Thierry Henry will miss Arsenal's crunch final match in Group G.

Henry must sit out the match against 2004 winners Porto in two weeks' time after collecting his third booking of the tournament last night.

Henry missed out on a goal against Hamburg, Robin van Persie cancelling out Holland team-mate Rafael van der Vaart's stunning early strike which had silenced the Emirates Stadium.

Wenger said: 'In these Champions League games which are played with such intensity, the last 10 or 15 minutes can often be decisive. And we made a convincing comeback.'

Wenger has handed only one Premiership start to Walcott, in a 3-0 win against Watford.

The England Under-21 star may be required to play a greater role against Porto, given Henry's ban.

'It is a blow, of course, losing Henry for the game in Portugal,' said Wenger, 'but we will go there and do it without him.'