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Sunday, August 22, 1999 Published at 18:14 GMT 19:14 UK


Keane double destroys Gunners

Roy Keane beats Alex Manninger to put United on level terms

Arsenal 1-2 Man Utd

Two goals from Roy Keane gave Manchester United a vital victory over their title rivals Arsenal, ending the Gunners' long unbeaten record at Highbury.


Ian Brown: "This dramatic game threatened to combust several times"
Keane hit the winner two minutes from time to send his manager Alex Ferguson into a triumphant touchline jig and take United back to the top of the table.

The Irish midfielder had earlier cancelled out a Frederick Ljungberg opener that had given Arsenal a 1-0 lead at the break.


[ image: Full-on clash: Keane slides in to tackle midfield rival Patrick Vieira]
Full-on clash: Keane slides in to tackle midfield rival Patrick Vieira
English football's big two produced a full-blooded contest, packed with incident and attractive football, that lived up to its pre-match billing as a potential title-decider.

Both sides were desperate for victory in a fixture that has been the highlight of the domestic season in recent years.

Such were the pressure levels that the match boiled over six minutes from the end, as Keane and Patrick Vieira clashed, prompting a face-off between the two sides which the referee did well to defuse.

End-to-end

A highly entertaining first half was full of chances for both sides.

But it was last season's runners-up Arsenal who took the lead against the reigning champions, after Ljungberg finished off a flowing 41st minute move instigated by United's main tormentor Nwankwo Kanu.

The Nigerian linked with Dennis Bergkamp, whose pass to Ljungberg left United struggling and the Swede finished in style.


[ image: Dwight delight: Yorke hails his match-winning captain Keane]
Dwight delight: Yorke hails his match-winning captain Keane
It was only his second goal for the Gunners - the other came in the same fixture last season, which Arsenal won 3-0.

Keane, though, kept alive United's unbeaten Premiership record - which stretches back to December - with an impressive second-half strike.

The Irish midfielder combined with Cole to spring Arsenal's well-drilled off-side trap and then stroked the ball past the advancing Alex Manninger.

The equaliser set up an almighty scramble in the closing stages in which either side could have won it.

But with 88 minutes on the clock, Keane kept his nerve to collect Ryan Giggs' deflected shot and beat Manninger to send Highbury's visiting fans home happy at last.

It was the first time for 20 months that Arsenal had lost at home.

Deputies on top

The early plaudits in an entertaining game were earned by the two second-string goalkeepers.


[ image: Dennis Bergkamp holds off a challenge from Henning Berg]
Dennis Bergkamp holds off a challenge from Henning Berg
Manninger of Arsenal and United's Raimond Van Der Gouw were only playing because of injuries to David Seaman and Mark Bosnich.

They needed to be on top form as the two teams carved out a string of openings.

United, with David Beckham an influential presence, were the more impressive in the early stages as Andy Cole hit the crossbar in and Ryan Giggs missed after being sent clear through.

But as the half went on Arsenal began to dominate.

In the absence of the injured Emmanuel Petit, Kanu was proving the home side's most influential creative presence. After almost prompting a Bergkamp opener and a Phil Neville own goal, Kanu came close to scoring himself after 33 minutes - but Van Der Gouw somehow clawed away his rising long-range drive.

Then it was Manninger's turn to pull off the goalkeeping heroics, as the Austrian produced two stunning saves with his legs in quick succession from Cole and Yorke.

Gunners fired up

Once Ljungberg had put Arsenal ahead they looked like extending their lead - but Van Der Gouw held Bergkamp's point-blank shot and early in the second half Matthew Upson hit the post.


[ image: Premature celebration: Frederick Ljungberg puts Arsenal in front]
Premature celebration: Frederick Ljungberg puts Arsenal in front
United desperately needed a goal - and against the run of play it came, courtesy of bucaneering captain Keane.

The equaliser prompted Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger to reshuffle his side and wiith 15 minutes remaining the Highbury faithful welcomed new signing Davor Suker.

The Croatian striker, who flew into London late on Saturday night after playing an international and only met his new clubmates just before the game, almost pulled off a sensational debut.

Sensing Van Der Gouw off his line, Suker tried an impudent lob with his first touch in English football - but his effort trailed over.

Keane's second gave United the advantage, but there was still time for Arsenal to press for a leveller.

Deep into injury time Van Der Gouw saved Upson's header and Martin Keown kicked the ball out of the keeper's hands - but the referee over-ruled the strike for a foul.

Teams:

Arsenal: Manninger, Dixon, Keown, Upson, Silvinho, Henry, Parlour, Vieira, Ljungberg, Kanu, Bergkamp. Subs: Vivas, Suker, Overmars, Grimandi, Lukic.

Man Utd: Van Der Gouw, Neville, Berg, Stam, Irwin, Beckham, Keane, Scholes, Giggs, Yorke, Cole. Subs: Butt, Sheringham, Curtis, Solskjaer, Culkin.

Referee: G Poll (Tring)





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