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Wednesday, October 27, 1999 Published at 20:54 GMT

Gunners crash out of Europe

Fiorentina's Batistuta destroyed the Gunners Champions league dream

Arsenal 0-1 Fiorentina

A stunning second-half strike from Gabriel Batistuta brought Arsenal's brief flirtation with the Champions League to an end at Wembley on Wednesday.

The BBC's Mike Ingham: "Only half a chance one goal and are Arsenal are confined to the Uefa Cup"
A superb drive from an almost impossible angle wrecked the Gunners' European dream for yet another year, while Fiorentina now progress to the last 16.

Despite a host of chances, Arsenal were unable to find the net with Kanu looking out of sorts at the front.

[ image: Arsene Wenger shows his disappointment at the final whilste]
Arsene Wenger shows his disappointment at the final whilste
Fiorentina, in contrast, secured only one real opportunity and Batistuta converted it with relish.

After the game, Arsenal coach, Arsene Wenger, admitted his side's poor home form had been the cause of their Champions League demise.

"Why are we out? I would say it is because we were not good enough at home," he said. "But I would not use Wembley as an excuse.

"We missed chances tonight and we knew it was important not to concede a goal. The team was never in a position to relax and it was very difficult to have a fluent game.

"Fiorentina defended very well, which increased the pressure, and we did not take our chances.

"It's a big blow for the team. The players gave everything but we have to be realistic, we lost and we can't change that now. We have to go away and think about why."

Gunners dominate

The first shot of the match went to the home side , but Viera's effort lacked power with Toldo easily clearing up.

Viera missed a fine opportunity in the 13th minute when the Italian defence was caught napping.

The Frenchman should have done better, but he failed to connect from a Petit corner, despite acres of space.

Chiesa should have put Fiorentina ahead minutes later, but he barely touched the ball just yards from the line after an inch-perfect cross from Di Livio on the right.

Arsenal began to pick up their game, moving the ball well out wide. Bergkamp then missed another opportunity for the home side, failing to make contact after a good low ball from Parlour.

The Arsenal pressure began to increase and a goal looked inevitable. It nearly came in the 33rd minute after a dreadful piece of defending from Fiorentina, which left Bergkamp alone inside the box.

The Dutchman was unable to find Kanu, however, with the ball skimming across the face of the goal untouched.

Fiorentina were clearly struggling at the back, but despite dominating territorially and in terms of possession, Arsenal were unable to find the net.

Missed chances

The second half started with a plethora of chances for both sides. Bergkamp shot wide of the post on 50 minutes, after Kanu had failed to control a Petit cross and Batistuta had skimmed the bar with an overhead kick.

Petit and Rossito were needlessly yellow-carded for a tussle on 55 minutes, but still Arsenal failed to find the net.

Repka was awarded a controversial yellow-card after shoving Bergkamp off the ball in a clear run for goal.

[ image: Batistuta receives a yellow-card for a late challenge of Lee Dixon]
Batistuta receives a yellow-card for a late challenge of Lee Dixon
The Gunners could make nothing of the free-kick, however, with Bergkamp's shot rebounding off the wall.

It marked a loss of momentum for Arsenal, with Fiorentina proving more of a menace inside the Gunners' half.

Davor Suker replaced Lee Dixon for the home side with 15 minutes remaining.

It was a brave move from Arsene Wenger who was clearly looking for the win.

Instead, however, in his first glimpse of goal, Batistuta proved his worth as the most famous marksman in Italian football, to hammer an unstoppable drive into the Arsenal net from a tight angle at the near post.

Overmars mishit a half-chance with just 10 minutes remaining. But worse was to follow, when Viera's shot was saved point blank and Suker hit the post.

It was clearly not Arsenal's night, despite a late surge into the Fiorentina area.

And when the whilstle blew it ended another dismal European night for the Arsenal fans


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

Fiorentina: Toldo, Repka, Fircano, Heinrich, Pierlini, Di Livio, Rui Costa, Cois, Rossitto, Chiesa, Batistuta. Subs: Taglialatela, Adani, Amor, Mijatovic, Okon, Balbo, Bressan.

Referee: Michel Lubos (Slovakia)

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