20 October 2005

Sparta Prague 0-2 Arsenal

Arsenal are perfect in the Champions League. So far.

Again, there was no hope for seeing this game on ESPN since Man Utd were playing at the same time. So I tracked it via Soccernet and the Bigsoccer Arsenal board. It's immensely frustrating, but that's all forgiven when your team wins 2-0 in an away Champions League match.

The early disappointing news came when Jose Antonio Reyes was subbed out for injury at 15 minutes. Early reports indicate a broken rib; add his name to the rather substantial list of injured Gunners. But we can also (provisionally) take a name off the list, as Thierry Henry was subbed in for Reyes.

And TH went on to score two goals.

The first was a thing of beauty. Kolo Toure hit a long ball on to Henry, who deftly controlled it on the edge of the box, using the sole of his foot, behind his back. Nice. The obvious move was to play it on to the charging Robin van Persie, but instead Henry simply cracked it with the outside of his right boot. It curved into the far side netting, leaving the keeper no chance. A hell of a strike.

The second was not as pretty (long ball from Pires, knocked off the late challenge from the defender to beat the keeper). But both were historic. The first tied, and the second broke, Ian Wright's goalscoring record for Arsenal. It's now official: Thierry Henry is the greatest ever Arsenal goalscorer.

Arsenal are perfect in their group, with nine points from three matches. Ajax are second on four points. Certainly the Gunners are in control of their future, and may be able to rest some key players in later matches. Even better, they should get a favorable seed in the knockout stages.

Great game and result. A game which will long be remembered for the record; but also pretty much assuring Arsenal go into knock-out phase.
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