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Wednesday, October 20, 1999 Published at 13:13 GMT


Barcelona win Wembley thriller

Barcelona's Luis Enrique celebrates Barcelona's second goal

Arsenal 2-4 Barcelona

Arsene Wenger's Arsenal were given a lesson in clinical finishing by a Barcelona side who took advantage of some uncharacteristic defensive errors in a pulsating contest at Wembley.


The BBC's Alan Green: "A fantastic game of football to watch"
Two first half goals from Rivaldo and Luis Enrique were added to by Dutchman Phillip Cocu and Luis Figo in the second half.

Arsenal replied with goals from Dutch pairing Dennis Bergkamp and Mark Overmars, but the Gunners were always chasing the game.

The first 10 minutes was a fairly nervous and lacklustre affair with both sides trying to find the killer ball to open up each other's defences.

Barcelona had fielded a side that contained players such as Dutchman Patrick Kluivert, Luis Figo and the brilliant Brazilian Rivaldo.

Arsenal were shell shocked in the 15th minute when Barcelona were awarded a penalty against the run of play.

Protested innocence

Dutch midfielder Phillip Cocu collected a loose ball from midfield and appeared to escape the Arsenal challenges.


[ image: Arsenal's Tony Adams (right) and Lee Dixon accuse the grounded Cocu of diving to win a penalty]
Arsenal's Tony Adams (right) and Lee Dixon accuse the grounded Cocu of diving to win a penalty
However England defender Tony Adams was adjudged to have clipped Cocu's ankle inside the penalty box.

Even though Adams protested his innocence, Swiss referee Urf Meier pointed to the spot.

It was left for the Brazilian Rivaldo to smash the penalty past a helpless David Seaman.

Worse was to follow in the space of a minute when the unfortunate Arsenal defence were exposed again.

While defender Martin Keown was off the pitch injured, Spanish international Luis Enrique caught the Gunners napping.

Immediate reply

Cutting in from the right, the Spaniard managed to elude a stumbling tackle by Adams and found the easy job of striking his shot inside Seaman's left-hand post.


[ image: Arsene Wenger wonders what happened to his side]
Arsene Wenger wonders what happened to his side
With Arsenal 2-0 down, Wenger's men had to make an immediate reply.

The Nigerian Nwanko Kanu fed a ball from the Arsenal left which was met with a vicious shot by winger Mark Overmars.

The Dutchman's strike was parried by Barca keeper Francesc Arnau but only to the feet of Tony Adams.

However the big defender failed to make amends for his previous two errors and scuffed the shot, which Arnau gratefully palmed away.

The Gunners were rewarded just before the stroke of half time when the magic of Dennis Bergkamp brought them back into the game.

It was Kanu again who delivered a vicious low cross into the penalty area, which was deftly controlled by Bergkamp.

The Dutchman eluded defender Guardiola with his first touch and then slotted the ball with consummate ease past a despairing dive from Arnau.

The first 45 minutes had left the Wembley crowd breathless but the second half proved to be just as entertaining.

It was the north London side who looked most likely to score when Frenchman Patrick Vieira bulleted a header over the Barcelona bar from a stinging Mark Overmars cross.

Miserable night

But despite their intentions, Wenger's men suffered another setback when the impressive Guardiola sent a long ball over the top of the Arsenal midfield.

Barcelona striker Patrick Kluivert, who was playing deep, miscontrolled the ball but Arsenal defender Lee Dixon only managed to inadvertently divert the ball into the path of Luis Figo.

Again Seaman was left one-on-one and yet again the Barcelona player made no mistake in slotting the ball underneath the body of the England goalkeeper.

Phillip Cocu completed a miserable night for the Gunners when he kept his nerve after collecting another Guardiola pass, to guide his shot past a despairing Seaman with 23 minutes of the game yet to play.

Arsenal refused to be defeated, but an 84th minute goal from Overmars after a neat one-two with substitute Davor Suker was scant consolation in a match in which the North London side were largely outfought and often outclassed.

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

Barcelona: Arnau, Abelardo, Bogarde, Guardiola, Reiziger, Cocu, Rivaldo, Figo, Sergi, Luis Enrique, Kluivert. Subs: Hesp, Dehu, Litmanen, Dani, Zenden, Gabri, Puyol.

Referee: Urf Meier (Switzerland)



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