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The BBC's Dave Woods reports
"Coventry scored three exquisite goals"
 real 28k

Sunday, 26 December, 1999, 20:20 GMT
Coventry shock Gunners

gunners The Gunners now lie eight points adrift of Leeds


Coventry City 3-2 Arsenal

Arsenal's title hopes suffered a massive setback after an inspired display from Coventry City at Highfield Road.

Fredrik Ljungberg and Davor Suker pulled two back for the Gunners after Gary McAllister and Mustapha Hadji had put Coventry in front.


Match facts
6 mins: Gary McAllister's deflected shot opens the scoring
40 mins: Mustapha Hadji doubles Coventry's lead
67 mins: Fredrik Ljungberg pulls one back
71 mins: Robbie Keane grabs the decider
86 mins: Davor Suker makes 3-2
It was a heroic fightback, but the visitors left themselves too much to do.

Robbie Keane's classy finish on 71 minutes ultimately proved decisive.

It was Coventry's first win in 11 attempts against the Gunners and only their eighth in 33 meetings at Highfield Road.

More worryingly for Arsenal, the result leaves them eight points adrift of leaders Leeds.

Coventry exerted early pressure, winning three corners in the first five minutes, but they were grateful to keeper Magnus Hedman for prevent Arsenal from taking an early lead.

A lightning break involving Thierry Henry and Kanu presented Marc Overmars with a clear run at goal, but Hedman was quickly out to narrow the angle and block the resulting shot.


gunners Arsenal fought back but it was too little too late
The significance of that save was demonstrated after just 90 second when McAllister - via the helping hand of Martin Keown - put the Sky Blues in front.

The former Scotland captain had plenty of time to line up his shot some 30 yards out, but Arsenal keeper David Seaman was given no chance as the ball cannoned off the thigh of Keown into the opposite corner of the net.

Arsenal tried to retaliate but Coventry threatened danger whenever they ventured forward as the Gunners rearguard struggled to cope with the aerial threat of Roussel.

And five minutes before half-time the Arsenal fans were stunned as Hadji - the 1998 African Player Of The Year - doubled Coventry's lead.

This time McAllister was the creator as he found Hadji on the edge of the area and his curling shot beat the despairing dive of Seaman on its way into the roof of the net.

New-found confidence

Coventry began the second period where they had left-off.

Keane fired over after Roussel had again won the ball in the air, and the Belgian Under-21 international then sent over a low cross from a narrow angle which just eluded Chippo at the far post.



We thought their last goal was offside and it put us under pressure but we held on.
Carlton Palmer
Arsenal were being hustled out of their stride, but in the 67th minute they gave themselves a life-line.

A Kanu cross was turned by Overmars to Ljungberg and, although Hedman blocked his first shot, the Swedish international was quickest to react and turn home the loose ball.

That only seemed to inspire Coventry and four minutes later they regained their two-goal advantage.

Palmer and Roussel both flicked on a Paul Williams free-kick and Keane curled the ball with the outside of his right foot back across Seaman into the corner of the net.

Arsenal staged a late rally and with four minutes left Davor Suker reduced the arrears with a brilliant individual effort, although there was more than a suspicion of offside - but Coventry held on to record a famous victory.

Teams:

Coventry: Hedman, Telfer, Williams, Breen, Froggatt, Hadji, Palmer, McAllister, Chippo, Roussel, Keane. Subs: Ogrizovic, Whelan, Normann, Eustace, Gustafsson.

Arsenal: Seaman, Dixon, Keown, Adams, Winterburn, Ljungberg, Petit, Grimandi, Overmars, Henry, Kanu. Subs: Manninger, Suker, Silvinho, Luzhny, Barrett.

Referee: R Harris (Oxford)

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