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The BBC's David Oates reports
"Arsenal have a priceless cushion"
 real 28k

Thursday, 25 November, 1999, 22:04 GMT
Late goals seal Gunners' win
Keeper Landreau was close to saving Overmars' penalty

Arsenal 3-0 Nantes

A spectacular strike from Nigel Winterburn proved the decisive moment at Highbury.

Arsenal looked as though they might have to make do with Marc Overmars' first half penalty, until the 81st minute when the veteran left back hammered home his first goal in two seasons.


I keep trying to get forward and this time Patrick Vieira set me up and luckily it just went in the right direction
Nigel Winterburn
Dennis Bergkamp then gave Arsenal a comfortable cushion to take to western France, with a delightful finish at the start of injury time.

Nantes were reduced to ten men on the hour, but the home side still found it tough to hammer home their numerical advantage against a side in the lower half of the French league.

Winterburn was eventually set up by Patrick Vieira, making a European appearance one match into his seven-game domestic suspension.

Vieira: Combative as always on a rare appearance
His fellow French midfielder Emmanuel Petit also started, but was unable to complete the game, after limping off in the first half with a recurrence of his knee problem.

Having returned to Highbury following their unsuccessful Champions League stay at Wembley, Arsenal made a sluggish start.

Their first chance was the Overmars penalty, which the Dutchman came close to having saved by goalkeeper Mickael Landreau.

It was given after Kanu was clattered by defender Medhi Leroy, as the Nigerian tried to reach Petit's chipped through ball.

Overmars had a chance to make it two after 20 minutes, following some intelligent work from Vieira.

Match facts
14 mins: Kanu felled, Overmars scores
43: Ahamada wasteful for Nantes
60: Chanelet off
81: Winterburn's crucial strike
90: Bergkamp adds a third
The Frenchman flicked the ball over onrushing keeper Landreau before finding the Dutch winger, whose shot was cleared off the line by Nicolas Savinaud.

But it was Nantes who almost scored just before half time, when Jean-Marc Chanelet found Hassan Ahamada down the right.

The Frenchman flashed wastefully wide with team-mates unmarked in the box.

On the hour the chances of Nantes scoring an away goal were dramatically reduced with the dismissal of Chanelet.

The Frenchman had already been booked, and a tug on Overmars resulted in a second yellow card.

Petit and strapped knee did not last long
Still the Gunners found it hard to break down the stubborn visitors, and Arsene Wenger sought inspiration from Thierry Henry and Davor Suker.

The fresh legs had an impact as the French side were pinned back in their own half for the first time in the match.

After 81 minutes Vieira threatened with a run to the edge of the area, and fed the ball left for Winterburn to powerfully drive home his first goal in two seasons.

Bergkamp got the third with a curling shot around Landreau in injury time, to give Arsenal a result which was dramatically better than their performance.

Team:

Arsenal: Seaman, Winterburn, Vieira, Adams, Vivas, Ljungberg, Bergkamp, Overmars, Petit, Grimandi, Kanu. Subs: Suker, Manninger, Henry, Parlour, Malz, Luzhny, Upson.

Nantes: Landreau, Gillet, Carriere, Sibierski, Piocelle, Leroy, Savinaud, Monterrubio, Chanelet, Deroff, Ahamada. Subs: Olembe, Toure, Grondin, Devineau, Gope-Fenepej, Mace, Aristouy.

Referee: Dani Koren (Israel)

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See also:
25 Nov 99 |  Football
Leeds' Russian clash called off
24 Nov 99 |  Football
Time for a happy homecoming
Links to other Football stories are at the foot of the page.