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banner Wednesday, 27 February, 2002, 21:38 GMT
Arsenal see off Leverkusen
Arsenal striker Thierry Henry
Henry after slotting his seventh Champions League goal
Arsenal 4-1 Bayer Leverkusen
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Goals from French trio Robert Pires, Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira and Dutchman Dennis Bergkamp saw Arsenal close in on a Champions League quarter-final place.

Two strikes within the first 10 minutes from Pires and Henry set the tone for an easy Arsenal victory with the home side never really in trouble.

Vieira scored his second goal of the season just after half-time before a sublime Bergkamp chip seven minutes from time sealed a superb all-round performance

  Key moments
5 mins: Robert Pires nets opening goal
7 mins: Thierry Henry slots second
48 mins: Patrick Vieira heads Arsenal's third
83 mins: Dennis Bergkamp scores with a sumptuous chip
86 mins: Zoltan Sebescen scores Bayer Leverkusen consolation
Zoltan Sebescen blasted a magnificent consolation with five minutes remaining for Leverkusen.

Arsenal started the game in fabulous fashion by opening up a two-goal advantage inside seven minutes. The first arriving after a short period of Leverkusen pressure.

Arsenal captain Vieira won the ball aggressively just inside the Gunners half before Pires latched onto the loose ball and was able to run unimpeded to the edge of the opposition's penalty area.

The midfielder was given as much time as he wanted by the Bayer defence and punished their slackness by curling right-footed past Joerg Butt.

Two minutes later Highbury was in raptures once more following a flowing team move.

Again, Vieira won the ball well again and Bergkamp gained possession.

Arsenal's Robert Pires
Pires congratulated by Wiltord after opening the scoring
The Dutch forward fed the overlapping Sylvain Wiltord whose measured low cross picked Henry out perfectly and he coolly sidefooted past Butt to double Arsenal's lead.

Eight minutes later, Igor Stepanovs slid in smartly to clear from well inside the Arsenal six-yard box with Leverkusen attackers bearing down.

A minute before the half hour, Arsenal had the ball in the net for the third time after another piece of Pires and Henry magic combined to set up Bergakamp with an open goal.

However, an erroneous offside flag kept Leverkusen's slim hopes of a positive result alive.

It is down to us now at home and if we can repeat this performance we will go through
Arsene Wenger
Leverkusen made two substitutions at the break but neither of those could make any impression before Vieira had settled the game as a contest.

A free-kick was won on the Arsenal right and Henry delightfully curled over from just inside the touchline.

Substitute Dimitar Berbatov inadvertently flicked the dead-ball on and Vieira headed past Butt for his second goal in two games.

Bergkamp scored a fine fourth for Arsenal. Collecting the ball on the edge of the Leverkusen box before twisting an turning and chipping a stranded Butt.

The consolation goal was also a cracker. The ball came free to Sebescen at an acute angle and he smacked an unstoppable right-foot half-volley past an amazed Seaman.

Arsenal: Seaman, Dixon, Campbell, Stepanovs, Lauren (Inamoto 84), Wiltord (Pennant 90), Vieira, Grimandi (Edu 67), Pires, Henry, Bergkamp.
Subs Not Used: Wright, Tavlaridis, Aliadiere, Volz.

Bayer Leverkusen: Butt, Zivkovic (Sebescen 74), Lucio, Nowotny, Placente, Schneider (Basturk 45), Ramelow, Ballack, Ze Roberto, Kirsten (Berbatov 45), Neuville.
Subs Not Used: Juric, Vranjes, Brdaric, Kleine.
Booked: Ballack, Zivkovic, Ramelow.

Ref: Alain Hamer (Luxembourg).

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