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BBC Sport's Steve Wilson
reports from Ukraine
 real 14k

banner Tuesday, 7 November, 2000, 21:53 GMT
Shakhtar shatter Arsenal run
Popov, Kanu and Abramov
Kanu squeezes in between Sergei Popov (left) and Vitali Abramov
Shakhtar Donetsk 3-0 Arsenal

Arsenal's unbeaten Champions League record was frozen out in icy conditions as Shakhtar Donetsk clinically secured a second chance in the Uefa Cup.

The Ukrainian side comfortably chalked up the victory they needed to secure their Uefa Cup place, while the Gunners will surely quickly shrug off the meaningless reverse, despite losing their unbeaten tag.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger resisted the temptation to field a reserve side, but still offered chances to young trio Stewart Taylor, Matthew Upson and Ashley Cole.

All three looked hugely composed, with Cole in particular catching the eye down the left flank.

Taylor, though, only had back passes to deal with in the opening stages of his European debut, before the Ukrainians finally tested him on 19 minutes.

The 19-year-old was up to the task however, diving low to his left to push away Dainius Gleveckas' deflected shot.

The scare appeared to shake Arsenal into action after they had made a slow start in the icy Siberian winds slicing across the Centralny Stadium.

Sergei Atelkin
Goalscorer Sergei Atelkin outjumps the Arsenal defence

Within a minute of Taylor's save, Sylvain Wiltord turned a shot over the crossbar after good work from Thierry Henry had set him up on the edge of the penalty area.

On 30 minutes, the lively Wiltord did find the net with a classy first-time finish from Lauren's pass, only to be harshly denied by an offside flag.

Arsenal were still cursing their bad luck when a rare slip by Martin Keown let the home side in for the opening goal on 34 minutes.

Keown, the two-goal hero of Arsenal's late comeback win over Shakhtar at Highbury, failed to cut out a hopeful pass over the top as the ball hung in the wind and his error left Sergei Atelkin with a clear run at goal.


Shakhtar were very sharp and showed Champions League quality. They are a good side but we lacked mental sharpness
  Arsene Wenger

The striker made no mistake, beating the defenceless Taylor with a low shot which crashed in off the inside of a post.

With the Gunners safely through to the second group stage, Wenger's side could have been expected to fold against a side still desperately chasing qualification.

But Arsenal had an unbeaten group record they were keen to protect and came agonisingly close to levelling either side of half time.

Desperate tackle

First, Henry cut in from the left flank and sent a low shot just wide of the far post as his search for a first Champions League goal of the season continued.

Minutes into the second half, Nelson Vivas almost found a way through as he broke from the centre of midfield and played a one-two with Wiltord before a desperate late tackle just forced the Argentinian to poke wide.

But the game slipped further out of Arsenal's reach on 56 minutes when Vivas was harshly adjudged to have fouled substitute Olexsi Byelik and Andriy Vorobei clincically despatched the free kick over the wall and into the top left-hand corner of Taylor's net.

Ten minutes later, Taylor's European baptism of fire continued, but again he had little chance as Shaktar opened up a three-goal lead, Byelik striking with a wonderful sidefoot volley after a sweeping move down the right..

The margin of victory flattered the home side slightly and Arsenal were even denied a late consolation when substitute Freddie Ljungberg latched on to Cole's pass and rounded goalkeeper Yuri Virt, only to be queezed out by Isaak Okoronkwo's challenge.

Even so, Arsenal are unlikely to lose much sleep over a defeat ahead of Friday's second phase draw, as the Gunners still topped Group B despite Lazio's win in Prague.


Shakhtar Donetsk: Virt, Starostyak, Gleveckas, Timoshchyuk, Popov, Bakharev, Zubov, Atelkin, Vorobei, Abramov, Okoronkwo.

Arsenal: Taylor, Dixon, Keown, Wiltord, Lauren, Henry, Parlour, Upson, Vivas, Kanu, Cole.

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