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Thursday, September 23, 1999 Published at 00:10 GMT 01:10 UK


Arsenal break Wembley hoodoo

Fredrik Ljungberg on his way to Arsenal's first

Arsenal 3-1 AIK Solna

Arsenal left it until the last three minutes of their Champions League encounter with AIK Solna to snatch a win through goals from Thierry Henry and Davor Suker.


The BBC's Ian Brown: "Arsenal's offside trap fell to pieces"
It looked as if the so-called Wembley hoodoo had come back to haunt Arsene Wenger's men as they failed to capitalise on massive amounts of possession then conceded a goal to Solna's captain Krister Nordin.

Arsenal started strongly and could have scored within two minutes as Marc Overmars crossed from the left wing and connected with Davor Suker who headed the ball wide, despite being virtually unmarked.

Arsenal's Swede scores

Solna's Mattias Asper was soon busy again as Denis Bergkamp exchanged a one-two to with Suker, forcing the keeper to pull off an excellent save.

With less than 15 minutes gone, Overmars squandered yet another superb chance by heading a Nigel Winterburn cross directly at Asper.


[ image: Davor Suker: Scored goal number three]
Davor Suker: Scored goal number three
On 20 minutes, a bobbling Bergkamp free kick found a hole in the Solna wall and the Swedes' keeper was again forced to save.

The scoring was finally opened for the Gunners on 28 minutes as a Bergkamp through ball - deflected conveniently off the defence - found Fredrik Ljungberg, who drilled the ball past his diving compatriot.

Going into half time, Arsenal finally seemed to have relaxed, with Solna looking increasingly panicky in defence and clueless in attack. It was telling that the Swedes did not have a single shot at the home side's goal in the entire first half.

But the Gunners came out for the second half looking like their minds were still in the changing room and Solna took full advantage.

Early in the half, the visitors made the Gunners pay for their inability to put the ball in the back of the net when confusion in the home side's goal mouth allowed Ola Andersson to slip the ball through to Nordin, who easily beat Alex Manninger from less than 10 yards.

Silvinho came on for Gilles Grimandi after 56 minutes and Arsenal appeared to find direction again - almost scoring from a Bergkamp free-kick 25 yards out.

Then on 68 minutes, Wenger made the substitutions that arguably salvaged the match, with Kanu and Thierry Henry coming on to replace Overmars and Ljungberg.

Empty net

The Gunners again piled on the pressure, with a Martin Keown header ricocheting off the crtossbar on 71 minutes and Kanu going just wide on the rebound.

Desperate attacking at the Swedish goal left Arsenal exposed in defence and it took a suspect intervention by Winterburn to deny Daniel Tjernstrom a match-turning score.

Henry was set loose by Suker only for him to drive the ball wide. But it was not to be the Swede's night, with the Frenchman making amends by scoring from inside 10 yards as the clock rolled over into injury time .

Then seconds later Suker took advantage of the literally non-existent Solna defence to score Arsenal's third on the counterattack.

The Swedes had crowded everyone into the box for a corner in an effort to grab a last-ditch equaliser, only for Bergkamp to set Henry free and unmarked in the Solna half.

The Frenchman drifted out to draw the keeper and squared to Suker who simply had to roll the ball into an empty net.

On balance of play, this was the right result, but the number of wasted chances to end the game earlier and the way Arsenal's offside trap went so dramatically to pieces will give Wenger plenty to think about.

Teams

Arsenal: Manninger, Dixon, Keown, Adams, Winterburn, Ljungberg, Vieira, Grimandi, Overmars, Bergkamp, Suker. Subs: Lukic, Vivas, Henry, Silvinho, Luzhny, Kanu, Upson.

AIK Solna: Asper, Nordin, O. Andersson, Brundin, Gustafsson, Novakovic, Tjernstrom, A. Andersson, Lagerlof, Ljung, Kaamark. Subs: Baxter, Corneliusson, Bergh, Aslund, Mattiasson, Kjolo, Johansson.

Referee: M Pereira (Portugal)



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