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Tuesday, November 2, 1999 Published at 21:54 GMT


Gunners sink battling Swedes

Marc Overmars: Hi the target twice for the Gunners

AIK Solna 2-3 Arsenal

Two goals from Arsenal's Marc Overmars proved too much for AIK Solna in Stockholm on Tuesday, despite a late fightback in the second-half.

In a game that meant little to both sides, the Gunners went ahead early, when Overmars converted in the 16th minute.

Arsenal were pegged back by an Andreas Andersson equaliser four minutes from half-time, but a second from Overmars and a well-finished goal by Suker, put the game beyond the Swedes, who nevertheless gave a good account of themselves.


[ image: AIK failed to reply to Davor Suker's third]
AIK failed to reply to Davor Suker's third
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger had insisted it was an "important" match to win despite the fact that neither side could qualify for the second round.

But he fielded a team without skipper Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Dennis Bergkamp and the injured Ray Parlour.

Solna's nippy attackers caused some consternation early on for Arsenal's new centre-back pairing of Matthew Upson and Oleg Luzhny.

But the home side's decision to play offside backfired when Fredrik Ljungberg timed his forward pass perfectly to Petit and the Frenchman's cross from the right found Overmars unmarked in the middle. The little Dutchman then calmly fired past Mattias Asper from 10 yards.

Solna raised the tempo and looked certain to equalise after 27 minutes when Ola Andersson was judged onside running onto a long through-ball but Alex Manninger sprang from his line to make the block with his legs.

At the other end, Asper had to stretch to keep out another Overmars drive when Solna only half-cleared a Winterburn corner.

Arsenal had begun to take charge but were suddenly caught on their heels in the 41st minute when Andreas Andersson slotted the equaliser. Patrick Vieira lost possession in the Solna half and Daniel Tjernstrom wasted no time hitting a long ball in behind the Gunners' back four.

The former Newcastle striker burst through and neatly rounded Manninger before sliding into an empty net.

Gunners dominate

Viera was penalised for handball just outside the area 5 minutes after the break, but Nordine wasted the opportunity by blasting the shot over the bar.

Minutes later, Arsenal moved ahead after Marc Overmars showed superb pace to slot a low ball from Kanu into the net for Arsenal's second.

The visitors started to dominate the game in the second period. In contrast, AIK quickly became tired.

Overmars missed a good hat-trick opportunity in the 55th minute, unselfishly playing the ball across goal to Ljungberg, despite a clear chance on goal. It proved a mistake with Ljungberg unable to connect.

Arsenal did not have to wait long for the third, however, after a magical run by Kanu split AIK's defence.

The Nigerian crossed across the face of the goal to Suker, who forced the ball in at the far post to make at 3-1, 10 minutes into the second half.

Arsenal, who looked supremely dominant, threatened to tear AIK apart.

But Novakovic continued to cause the Gunners massive problems in the area, missing a good chance to pull one back when he turned the Arsenal defence. Only a superb reaction save from the Austrian goalkeeper ultimately kept him out.

AIK were clearly not giving up despite the pressure and Andreas Anderson brought them within one point with a superb goal in the 69th minute.

A long ball from Lagerlof put the former Newcastle man into space and he rounded Manninger easily to tap the ball over the line.

Teams:

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

Arsenal: Manninger, Dixon, Luzhny, Upson, Winterburn, Ljungberg, Vieira, Petit, Overmars, Kanu, Suker. Subs: Seaman, Vivas, Malz, Hughes, Vernazza, Black, Cole.

Referee: H Strampe (Germany)



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