Saturday, April 24, 1999 Published at 19:39 GMT 20:39 UK
Awesome Arsenal take top spot
Anelka is felled by Vickers for Arsenal's fourth-minute penalty
Middlebrough 1-6 Arsenal
Arsenal threw down the championship gauntlet in emphatic fashion with one of their finest displays of recent years to destroy Middlesbrough.
If Manchester United, fresh from the glory of their European Cup semi-final victory, believed the title was now in their grasp, last season's Double winners had other ideas.
The trip to the Riverside was seen as one of the toughest fixtures left for Arsenal.
On a day when every one of the visiting team was at the top of their game, Kanu - who only started the match because of a groin injury to Dennis Bergkamp - stood out above the rest.
With strike partner Anelka and Marc Overmars also in scintillating form, Boro's highly-rated defence was ripped to shreds time and again.
Wenger: We had to win
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger admitted anything less than a convincing victory would have ended his side's title push.
"At least it keeps an interesting situation for everybody. Manchester United have two games in hand and we are two points in front.
"But we have just to go from game to game and win our games. We have reduced the goal difference today to just one behind Manchester United.
"We wanted the three points but we played so well, we got the points and the goals."
Middlesbrough found themselves behind after just four minutes - and the early blow was largely self-inflicted.
David Seaman was forced to save from Hamilton Ricard following a mazy run from the Colombian - and from the subsequent corner Brian Deane's powerful header was directed straight at the England keeper.
But Arsenal, with Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Vieira dominant in midfield, soon reassumed control and Schwarzer saved from Anelka following Overmars' lay-off.
Boro still posed a threat on the break, though, and Deane teed up a spectacular volley that had Seaman at full stretch to turn over the bar.
Anelka on the mark
Seven minutes before the break Arsenal claimed the second goal their superior passing and organisation had warranted.
Boro had a glorious chance to equalise just before the break when Robbie Mustoe forced his way into the area - but Seaman was quick to react to the danger and the hooked shot drifted wide.
It proved a costly miss as Kanu put the game out of sight on the stroke of half-time. Another eye-catching counter-attacking move saw Anelka reach the byline on the right and cross for Kanu, who stroked the ball into the bottom corner.
Overmars should have made it 4-0 just after the interval, but he took too many touches after Anelka had found him unmarked in the area and shot wide.
But the next goal was not far off as Vieira got in on the act in the 55th minute, starting and finishing arguably the best move of the match.
The French midfielder played the ball to Anelka wide on the right, he provided the perfect cross, Overmars touched it on and Vieira was able to score with ease.
The best was yet to come, though.
On the hour Lee Dixon crossed into the area and Kanu, with his back to the goal, produced a piece of stunning improvisation to cheekily flick the ball between his legs and into the far corner of the net.
Ricard, who was Boro's only genuine threat throughout, beat Seaman with an excellent free-kick 20 minutes from the time - but manager Bryan Robson must have known it was not his side's day when he saw the ball cannon back of the post and ricochet clear.
Mustoe again came close for Boro - but straight away Arsenal made it six, Kanu teeing the ball up for Anelka, who curled the ball round Schwarzer for another glorious goal.
Anelka should have had his hat-trick but Vickers headed the ball off the line with Schwarzer beaten.
But, with huge contingents of the home faithful flooding out of the ground long before the final whistle, Boro were to have the final word, Alun Armstrong heading home from Andy Townsend's free-kick.
Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Cooper, Pallister, Vickers, Stockdale, Mustoe, Maddison, Townsend, Gordon, Deane, Ricard. Subs: Beresford, Kinder, Cambell, Armstrong, Summerbell.
Arsenal: Seaman, Dixon, Bould, Adams, Winterburn, Parlour, Vieira, Petit, Overmars, Anelka, Kanu. Subs: Lukic, Vivas, Hughes, Grimandi, Diawara.
Referee: M Riley (Leeds)