Arsenal batter Braga at Emirates Stadium

LONDON - Even if Braga had shifted the huge rock face that looms over their stadium in northern Portugal and dumped it at the Emirates, Cesc Fabregas would still have found a way to goal on Wednesday.

Arsenal's Spanish midfielder produced a mesmerising performance in a 6-0 Group H victory to open their Champions League campaign, beginning the rout with a penalty, striking again after the half-time and laying on chances galore.

GEAR: 2010/11 Champions League kits. Get your new shirt here with our online retailer Kitbag

Braga, nicknamed the Arsenalistas, beat Celtic and Sevilla to take their place alongside Europe's elite but the Portuguese were shattered before halftime as Fabregas conducted a show of firepower that will have resonated across the continent.

Andrei Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh helped themselves to goals and substitute Carlos Vela joined the party with a brace as Arsenal, without the injured Theo Walcott and Robin van Persie, threatened their 7-0 record home win in Europe.

LIVE: Interactive coverage as it happened

They all owed a debt to the inspirational Fabregas, however, as the 23-year-old turned in a performance to rival that of Barcelona's Lionel Messi the previous night.

The Arsenal skipper did not look like a player tempted to give up on manager Arsene Wenger's slowly evolving project and head back to the Nou Camp where he began his career.

Arsenal's five-year trophy drought is used as a stick to beat Wenger and given as a reason Fabregas should leave but he believes the Spaniard can achieve all he wants at Arsenal.

NEWS: Paciencia: Braga could not have played worse

"I never said he didn't have his heart here," Wenger told reporters, when asked about Fabregas's flirtation with a move back to Barcelona. "He has moved to another dimension.

"People forget he is 23 which is when some players are just starting. He is a fantastic influence on the team and for the young players like (Jack) Wilshere to play alongside him is a fantastic opportunity for them to learn."


Fabregas was simply too good for Braga whose defending was anything but rock-like on a torrid Champions League debut.

He should have iced his evening with a hat-trick in the dying minutes but even then he showed real class, squaring for Vela to tap in with the goal gaping.

"I like the way he gave the ball to Vela because that's the perfect attitude of a leader," Wenger said. "He loves this club. People doubted it but I never did. He enjoys the way we play so what could he want more to be happy?"

Fabregas began the rout in the ninth minute, clipping a penalty past unfortunate Braga keeper Felipe after Chamakh had been felled as he raced on to the Spaniard's astute pass.

The World Cup winner's mazy dribble and pass after 30 minutes allowed Arshavin to double the lead and four minutes later the match was effectively over as another bout of five-a-side football left Braga dizzy and Wilshere's flick was converted by Chamakh.

There was no respite in the second half for a Braga side containing six Brazilians and two players wearing 88 and 99 on the back of their black shirts.

After 53 minutes Fabregas displayed his aerial prowess, heading in Arshavin's cross before Vela, who replaced the impressive Chamakh, lifted the f