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The BBC's Ian Brown
"The game began on a contentious note"
 real 28k

Sunday, 23 April, 2000, 16:03 GMT 17:03 UK
Henry breaks brave Watford

Thierry Henry continues his superb run of form
Watford 2-3 Arsenal

Two superb goals by Arsenal's Thierry Henry were enough to deny desperately unlucky Watford at Vicarage Road.


Match facts
18 mins: Henry scores his first
43 mins: Parlour makes it two
45 mins: Henry dances through for his second
58 mins: Helguson pulls on back for Watford
60 mins: Hyde scores the Hornet's second
Below par Arsenal scored three first-half goals against the run of play, with Ray Parlour claiming his between the French striker's efforts.

But Watford doggedly stuck to their guns and pulled back two well-deserved goals in the space of two minutes through Heidar Helguson and Micah Hyde.

A goalkeeping howler by David Seaman in the second minute nearly gave Watford an immediate advantage.

The England keeper's fluffed clearance kick went about a yard-and-a-half and fell to Helguson, whose first shot was blocked and the second prevented as Seaman flopped on the Icelandic striker's legs.

The home side felt justifiably aggrieved not to have been awarded a penalty and nearly conceded a goal to a speculative Henry shot from 26 yards as the Gunners made a quick breakout.

Eight goals, eight games

Watford swarmed forward and a sluggish-looking Arsenal defence allowed Tommy Smith a clear shot that was brilliantly deflected by Seaman at full stretch.



Ray Parlour makes it 2-0 to Arsenal
The Hornets dominated the first quarter, but it was Arsenal who opened the scoring with a goal totally against the run of play.

A long ball from Emmanuel Petit found Henry about 35 yards out to give the French star a one-on-one with the Watford keeper.

Henry made no mistake, slotting the ball through Alec Chamberlain's legs for his eighth goal in eight games after 18 minutes.

Despite their 1-0 advantage, the Gunners were clearly still suffering a Uefa Cup hangover following their victory over Lens on Thursday and their play appeared largely directionless and unmotivated.

Watford's cruel luck was reinforced as Micah Hyde's angled shot from a one-on-one with Seaman ricocheted off the post on 34 minutes.

The first half meandered into mediocrity and Arsenal's frustration began to show as Dennis Bergkamp was booked for a late challenge that poleaxed Watford's Paul Robinson.

Killer blow

Then as half-time loomed, the underperforming Arsenal added insult to injury by slotting two goals in two minutes.

First Parlour made it two for the visitors when a searching Henry long ball found the midfielder in space.



Henry strokes home his second goal
Robinson's brave last-ditch tackle only served to wrongfoot the keeper, leaving Parlour to roll the ball casually into the back of the net.

Watford had no time to recover. Henry produced a sparkling run that saw the Hornets' defence tackling shadows as he curled the ball past Chamberlain into the bottom right corner.

Marc Overmars nearly opened the second 45 minutes in similar style with a bullet that slammed into the upright as the defence stood off him and watched.

But the Hornets' industry was finally rewarded with a dose of long-awaited good luck.

Martin Keown was booked for a shove on the edge of the Arsenal area.

Watford fightback

Neil Cox's free-kick spooned off the wall and dropped perfectly for Helguson who sent a rocket past Seaman to pull a goal back after 58 minutes.

And two minutes later, the Gunners were finally punished for their lackadaisical defending when Hyde worked the ball down the right and blasted in a sharply angled strike to give Watford a sniff of one of the season's more unlikely comebacks.

Watford produced another period of sustained pressure and went close a number of times from a series of corners and free-kicks.

Arsenal finally broke out as the rain came teeming down, and Henry was only denied his hat-trick by the width of the woodwork after another piece of dazzling skill left the Hornets' defence in tatters.

The match ended in controversy as Patrick Vieira was carded for a clash of heads with Helguson during an off-the-ball incident, which continued when the Icelandic player shoved Vieira after the final whistle.

Teams

Watford: Chamberlain, Ward, Page, Robinson, Cox, Palmer, Hyde, Perpetuini, Smith, Smart, Helguson.
Subs: Day, Gibbs, Gudmundsson, R. Johnson, Bonnot.

Arsenal: Seaman, Luzhny, Keown, Winterburn, Parlour, Vieira, Petit, Grimandi, Bergkamp, Henry, Overmars.
Subs: Manninger, Dixon, Silvinho, Malz, Gray.

Referee: R Harris (Oxford)

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See also:

23 Apr 00 | FA Carling Premiership
Shearer spares Magpies' blushes
22 Apr 00 | FA Carling Premiership
Man Utd win title in style
20 Apr 00 | Champions League
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Links to other FA Carling Premiership stories are at the foot of the page.