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Monday, April 19, 1999 Published at 22:50 GMT 23:50 UK

Gunners close the gap

Patrick Viera converts Arsenal's second goal

Arsenal 5-1 Wimbledon

Four second-half goals in nine minutes helped Arsenal demolish Wimbledon at Highbury and moved the Gunners within one point of Premiership leaders Manchester United.

BBC Radio 5 Live's Dave Woods reports from Highbury
At the break, Arsenal were leading 1-0 thanks to a close range strike from Ray Parlour.

But when the whistle blew to signal the start the second-half, it marked the beginning of a sustained period of pressure from the Gunners that saw the Dons defence crumble.

Arsene Wenger:"We enjoyed the way we played" (BBC Radio 5 Live)
Four minutes in, Patrick Viera added the second with a hard, low shot, before a Nwankwo Kanu header rebounded in off Ben Thatcher to make it 3-0.

[ image: Ray Parlour: Opened the goalfest for the Gunners]
Ray Parlour: Opened the goalfest for the Gunners
Seconds later, Dennis Bergkamp rounded the Dons defence to strike the fourth from 15-yards, and Kanu then secured his first goal for the Gunners, tapping in from two yards after a defensive mix-up.

From the outset the home side looked dangerous with Marc Overmars pushing in a cross behind the Dons defence after only three minutes.

The first real chance of the game went to Wimbledon, however, with Marcus Gayle immediately counter attacking.

Racing down the right flank, Gayle crossed quickly, but Carl Corte failed to reach it as it zipped across the 18-yard box.

Bergkamp then asserted his presence on the game, striking a superb shot from 20-yards and forcing Neil Sullivan to push the ball away for an Arsenal corner.

The cross provided Viera with a clear chance for the Gunners, but Viera lifted the ball far over the crossbar - after Bergkamp had headed down.

Gunners confident

It was a good start from Arsenal with Bergkamp and Kanu looking confident up front.

The home side were clearly playing the patience game - building up pressure and putting some clever moves together.

Sullivan then blocked a snap-shot from Parlour who had been fed inside from Kanu.

It was a good save from The Dons keeper who looked safe for most of the half - more than can be said of the Wimbledon defence who began to struggle against a predatory Gunners attack.

It marked the beginning of a superb piece of pressure from Arsenal and when Parlour put the home side ahead from six yards after a pull-back from Overmars, it surprised no-one at Highbury.


When the break came, Wimbledon were fortunate to have been only one goal behind.

But their luck was soon to desert them with goal number two coming after only four minutes.

[ image: Arsenal's Martin Keown challenges Carl Corte]
Arsenal's Martin Keown challenges Carl Corte
Winterburn won a good ball back from Marcus Gayle after Parlour had been dispossessed.

And in a surging forward run, Parlour fed Viera inside who hit a hard low ball past Sullivan's left hand.

The chances were coming thick and fast and so too were the goals.

Kanu claimed the third, after meeting a Bergkamp cross from the right.

The Nigerian headed against the bar - and unfortunately for Wimbledon - the ball rebounded off Thatcher into the back of the net.

From the re-start, things went from bad to worse for the Dons, with Bergkamp converting the fourth immediately, after the Dutchman rounded Alan Kimble to beat Sullivan on his right.

It was Arsenal's third goal in seven minutes - but more was to come.

Two minutes later, Bergkamp ran at the retreating Wimbledon defence, passing inside to Viera whose shot was fumbled by Sullivan, leaving Kanu to tap in from two yards.

The second half had turned into a rout for the home side - but Wimbledon failed to give in completely.

Minutes later, Carl Corte became the only person to score a goal at Highbury in 1999 after a free-kick from Ceri Hughes.

It proved too little too late for the visitors, however, and was little consolation in a game during which they had been consistently outplayed.

Arsenal: Seaman, Nelson Vivas, Keown, Adams, Nigel Winterburn, Parlour, Vieira, Petit, Overmars, Bergkamp, Kanu. Subs: Bould, Anelka, Grimandi, Lukic, Diawara.

Wimbledon: Sullivan, Cunningham, Blackwell, Thatcher, Kimble, Hughes, Castledine, Gayle, Euell, Earle, Cort. Subs: Heald, Leaburn, Jupp, Ainsworth, Hartson.

Referee: S Lodge (Barnsley)

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