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Monday, August 17, 1998 Published at 10:18 GMT 11:18 UK

Overmars chops down Forest

Marc Overmars beats Dave Beasant to score the winner

Arsenal 2-1 Nottingham Forest

Wenger: We had the spirit and concentration but not the legs
A spectacular goal from Marc Overmars launched Arsenal's defence of their Premiership title, as the Double-winners saw off newly-promoted Nottingham Forest at Highbury on Monday night.

With just 11 minutes left on the clock and Forest looking to hold out for an unlikely point, the Dutchman picked up the ball in his own half.

He out-paced Steve Chettle and raced half the length of the pitch, before firing a shot from the edge of the area.

Marc Overmars volleys in the winner
Forest keeper Dave Beasant was equal to the strike, but the ball rebounded off his legs and Overmars somehow twisted himself in mid-air and sent a looping overhead kick into the back of the net.

Forest, who have been written off as relegation fodder by many critics since losing first-choice strikers Kevin Campbell and Pierre Van Hooijdonk, provided determined opposition for the Gunners.

Geoff Thomas levels the scores
Indeed, Overmars' wonder goal overshadowed a similarly thrilling effort from Forest's Geoff Thomas just three minutes beforehand.

[ image: Thomas splits the defence to equalise]
Thomas splits the defence to equalise
The former England man played a one-two with striker Jean-Claude Darcheville and tore through the heart of Arsenal's defence, before curling a superb shot past David Seaman.

The home side had the majority of the chances, but they never looked thoroughly convincing, with Dennis Bergkamp in subdued mood.

Emmanuel Petit put the Gunners ahead with his first goal since the World Cup final on 58 minutes.

Petit puts Arsenal in front - BBC Radio 5 Live
Petit, who helped France win the World Cup with the third goal against Brazil, provided the final touch after two of the Gunners' other France 98 stars had punished the Forest defence.

Bergkamp crossed a perfect free-kick from the right and Tony Adams rose above his marker to send a thunderous header against the bar.

Petit was quickest to react to the rebound and nodded into a gaping goal.

[ image: Tony Adams congratulates Emmanuel Petit]
Tony Adams congratulates Emmanuel Petit
The midfielder's goal gave the Double-winners an extra impetus, following a sluggish first half in which they were frustrated by a spirited effort by Forest.

Arsene Wenger's side had their chances early on, but Forest survived the scares and, as the half went on, they began to find their top-flight feet.

Beasant was in fine form, keeping out efforts from Nicholas Anelka and Marc Overmars as his defence were caught napping at the start.

The veteran keeoer was beaten in the 23rd minute, but was relieved to see Anelka's shot rebound back off the woodwork.

Anelka chested down Patrick Vieira's cross with an exquisite first touch, before brushing aside Chettle and smacking a close-range shot against the post.

[ image: Darchville tested Seaman]
Darchville tested Seaman
David Seaman had to be at his sharpest in the 34th minute to deny Darchville opening the scoring for the visitors.

Wing-back Thierry Bonalair laid on a precise through-ball for the French striker, who raced clear of the defence and fired in a shot at the near post, which Seaman did well to save with his legs.


Arsenal: Seaman, Dixon, Winterburn, Vieira, Adams, Anelka, Bergkamp, Overmars, Keown, Parlour, Petit. Subs: Bould, Manninger, Hughes, Garde, Boa Morte.

Nottm Forest: Beasant, Rogers, Chettle, Hjelde, Stone, Johnson, Armstrong, Thomas, Bonalair, Darcheville, Hodges. Subs: Crossley, Freedman, Lyttle, Dawson, Harewood.

Referee: M Riley (Leeds)

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