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Saturday, October 23, 1999 Published at 18:41 GMT


Kanu hat-trick sinks Chelsea

The late, late Kanu show rocked Chelsea

Chelsea 2-3 Arsenal

Nigerian striker Nwankwo Kanu scored three goals in the final fifteen minutes as Arsenal came from behind to inflict a memorable defeat on arch-rivals Chelsea.


The BBC's Alan Green: "Kanu took the striking responsibility"
It was a fiercely-fought London derby which Chelsea appeared to have sewn up with half and hour to go thanks to two headers from Tore Andre Flo and Dan Petrescu.

But then Chelsea collapsed under a furious Arsenal comeback - keeper Ed De Goey, who had not conceded a Premiership goal at Stamford Bridge until this match, let in three second-half goals.

Kanu rattled in goals in the 75th, 83rd and 90th minutes to seal victory.

De Goey may not be blamed for the first two but he handed Arsenal victory in stoppage time when he mistakenly raced out of his penalty box allowing Kanu to grab the match-winner.

The Nigerian has already achieved cult popularity at Highbury but after this performance against Arsenal's hated enemies he is likely to be elevated to legendary status.

Discipline problems

The Chelsea/Arsenal derby was always going to be a fierce arena - there have been 49 yellow cards issued in the last seven meetings - and it was left-back Graeme Le Saux who bore the brunt of the ire.

Referee Alan Wilkie waited only three minutes before issuing card number 50 - to Lee Dixon for his snapping at Le Saux's heels.

The game continued in bad-tempered fashion as tackles flew in from all quarters on a pitch made slippery by heavy rain.

And in the absence of creative wizzards Gianfranco Zola and Dennis Bergkamp - who suffered a thigh strain in Arsenal's midweek 4-2 to Barcelona - the style was functional rather than fanciful.

It was a close contest but Chelsea deserved their first-half lead - just.

Striker Tore Andre Flo - who scored two of Chelsea's Turkish haul - was a noticable if isolated thorn in the Arsenal back four.

And it was Flo who gave Chelsea the lead six minutes before the interval when he rose above two Arsenal defenders to meet Dan Petrescu's cross with a well-directed header beyond David Seaman.

Flank attack

Arsenal fell victim to another attack from the flank just six minutes after the break.

Petrescu was unmarked when he leapt up to power home a splendidly crisp Le Saux cross and double Chelsea's lead.

But it was Arsenal who then displayed the best football as they entered their most promising spell of the match.

And with the puddles deeping at Stamford Bridge, it was Kanu who kept his feet to give Arsenal hope with a quarter of an hour remaining.

He flung out a leg to intercept a low Marc Overmars shot which was stuttering to a halt and then turned to poke the ball with just another power to take it through the mire.

Kanu's sureness of touch fired Arsenal level with just five minutes remaining.

Poyet error

Gus Poyet stretched to cut out an Overmars cross but missed - allowing Kanu to calmly knock the ball into space and rifle in a meatily-struck near-post shot which De Goey will be disappointed to have conceded.

By now Arsenal had completely taken the initiative away from Chelsea and looked odds on to snatch a victory.

Only a desperate block from Frank Leboeuf denied Kanu's partner Davor Suker and Chelsea then nearly stole it, the big frame of Martin Keown interecepting two goal-bound headers from first Sutton and then Leboeuf.

But with the clock-ticking down and many of the players perhaps happy to settle for a draw, Kanu pounded on.

His persistance earnt his side a memorable victory as he fired a last-minute winner, beating De Goey to the ball and curling home a shot over the heads of Leboeuf and Marcel Desailly from the finest of angles.

Teams: Chelsea: De Goey, Ferrer, Desailly, Leboeuf, Babayaro, Petrescu, Wise, Deschamps, Le Saux, Sutton, Flo.
Subs: Hogh, Poyet, Morris, Cudicini, Zola.
Arsenal: Seaman, Dixon, Keown, Adams, Silvinho, Parlour, Ljungberg, Petit, Overmars, Kanu, Suker.
Subs: Vivas, Manninger, Henry, Upson, Vernazza.
Referee: A Wilkie (Chester Le Street)




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