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The BBC's Ron Jones
"West Ham were decimated by injuries"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 2 May, 2000, 20:47 GMT 21:47 UK
Petit fires Gunners to win

Di Canio celebrates his first half strike
Arsenal 2-1 West Ham

Emmanuel Petit scored a deflected last minute winner to keep the Gunners on the road back to the Champions League.

The French midfielder came on as a second half substitute as the home side struggled to maintain their charge towards a top three place.

Paolo Di Canio had given West Ham a half-time lead, before Marc Overmars equalised for an out-of-sorts home side.

Arsenal entered the game on the back of 10 consecutive wins with Oleg Luzhny a last-minute replacement for Martin Keown due to a problem suffered in the warm-up.

Thierry Henry was also out injured while Petit was not fit enough to start but West Ham's list of absentees was by far the greater.

Three goalkeepers were among 13 first team absentees, with young Stephen Bywater an inpexperienced last line of defence and 42-year-old goalkeeping coach Les Sealey on the bench.

Viera battles away with West Ham youngster Carrick

But it was David Seaman who was tested first as Paulo Wanchope caused problems for Tony Adams before the England keeper clung onto Frederic Kanoute's shot.

Arsenal's pace troubled the Hammers' emergency defence with stand-in wing-back Steve Potts struggling to keep up with Overmars.

The visitors held on, with midfielder Marc Keller filling in at the back to produce a last-ditch tackle on Dennis Bergkamp.

Igor Stimac then denied Overmars with a similar challenge, before Adams had a header deflected over and Ray Parlour shot wide.

In the closing stages of the half Bergkamp went close when he hooked the ball over Bywater, but it was going just wide before being hooked away.

Opening goal

Within seconds West Ham were ahead, with Trevor Sinclair muscling Lee Dixon off the ball on the West Ham left.

As the Arsenal right-back fell to the ground, Sinclair moved to the byline and provided a cross/shot which Seaman parried.

However the clearance fell to Di Canio, who drove the ball back into the net past the England goalkeeper's dive.

Arsenal could have been level within two minutes of the restart but Bergkamp's snap shot was saved by Bywater.

The chance followed good work from Kanu and Ray Parlour down the right.

West Ham also threatened on the counter-attack again as Paulo Wanchope miscued a shot after a one-two with Di Canio and then headed another chance over the top.

Disjointed

As in the first half there was a disjointed look to the home side, who constantly wasted promising positions with poor final balls.

They finally broke through when a long ball was played over the top for Overmars to run onto.

The Dutchman controlled and despite the attentions of Marc-Vivien Foe smashed the ball past Bywater's right hand and into the net.

A brief flashpoint saw Vieira booked for a clash with Di Canio.

Arsenal's French midfielder was sent off and then banned for six matches for spitting at Neil Ruddock in the last meeting between these two teams at Upton Park last October.

Vieira showed the better side of his game in the closing stages with a powerful run before releasing Overmars who shot inches wide from 20 yards.

But it was Viera's compatriot Petit who provided the decisive moment of the game.

Luzhny's long throw was headed out to the substitute, who shot hopefully from the edge of the box and saw the ball deflected past Bywater.

It was the decisive moment, but not the final drama of the game. That saw Trevor Sinclair sent off for a second bookable offence deep in injury time.

Teams:

Arsenal: Seaman, Dixon, Adams, Luzhny, Silvinho, Parlour, Vieira, Grimandi, Overmars, Bergkamp, Kanu. Subs: Winterburn, Manninger, Petit, Malz, Gray.

West Ham: Bywater, Potts, Stimac, Keller, Sinclair, Kanoute, Foe, Moncur, Carrick, Wanchope, Di Canio. Subs: Sealey, Riza, Forbes, A. Newton, McCann.

Referee: P Durkin (Dorset)

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