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Wednesday, 22 November, 2000, 19:02 GMT
Arsenal gunned down in Moscow
Spartak Moscow 4-1 Arsenal
Arsenal were emphatically defeated by Russian side Spartak Moscow in the opening game of this second group stage Champions League encounter at the Luzhniki Stadium.
Arsenal took an early lead through Silvinho but their display uncharacteristically lacked discipline as they fell to a fourth defeat in six games.
Spartak showed their quality and resolve in coming back from a goal down as Marcao netted a brace before Egor Titov and Luis Robson scored to help the Russians extend their impressive record against English teams.
Arsenal enjoyed an ideal start to the game when Brazilian Silvinho put them in front in the second minute to set up an an exciting attacking contest.
The London side began true to the words of manager Arsene Wenger who said before the game that Arsenal would not be on the defensive despite a recent poor run of form.
Frenchman Robert Pires released fellow countryman Thierry Henry inside the first minute but the striker elected to cross from an acute angle when it might have been better to shoot.
Henry then released the overlapping Silvinho into the Spartak area and the left-back scored his second Champions League goal this season when he coolly slid in the opener.
Spartak goalkeeper Alexander Filimonov then acted quickly to clear with Fredrik Ljungberg ready to pounce before Arsenal's Alex Manninger was called into action in the visitors goal.
Austrian Manninger saved at the feet of Spartak's Brazilian striker Luis Robson and was hurt in the process before Artem Bezrodny shot wide from the rebound.
The lively Henry then led an Arsenal counter-attack along with Pires and Nwankwo Kanu.
Kanu was the recipient of Henry's pass but his shot was saved by Filimonov with the Nigerian striker clearly feeling he should have done better from a good opening.
Similarly to Arsenal, Spartak claimed four wins in the the first group stage six matches and the Russians began to work their way ominously into the game.
Titov thought he should have had a penalty but Spartak's delivery into the Arsenal area was causing problems for the visitors defence.
Inevitably, Spartak's equaliser came from a corner when Arsenal failed to clear their lines and the ball fell to Brazilian Marcao who clinically converted with a left-foot strike.
Another corner soon after for the home side fell to the Vasily Baranov but he lashed his effort from point-balnk range high of Arsenal's goal.
While proving dangerous in attack, Spartak proved equally adept in defence as Yury Kovtun and Dmitry Parfenov respectively denied Pires and Kanu getting shots on goal.
Marcao should have put Spartak in the lead on the stroke of half-time when he turned and shot on the six yard line only to see his effort go wide across goal.
A Pires header was diverted onto the bar by the Spartak defence after the interval before Marcao made up for his miss in opportunistic manner.
His strike partner Robson was left free in the Arsenal area to meet a Spartak cross but headed tamely before Marcao arrived at the far post to divert the ball in for his second goal.
The Russian side have lost only once in 10 previous meetings with English opposition and they then began to stamp their authority on the game.
Despite Silvinho and Kanu coming close, the home side looked the more comfortable against a jittery and unorganised Arsenal.
Manninger saved a stinging Marcao shot before Spartak then extended their lead when their influential midfielder Titov scored his fourth Champions League goal of the campaign.
Robson gave an emphatic look to the scoreline when he rounded Manninger after 80 minutes before confidently slotting in Spartak's fourth.
Spartak Moscow: Filimonov, Ananko, Tchuisse, Baranov, Kovtun, Bulatov, Parfenov, Bezrodny, Titov, Robson, Marcao. Subs: Smetanin, Bushmanov, Stolcers, Kalynychenko, Chtchegolev, Belozerov, Pisarev.
Arsenal: Manninger, Luzhny, Keown, Adams, Silvinho, Ljungberg, Parlour, Vivas, Pires, Kanu, Henry. Subs: Lukic, Dixon, Wiltord, Lauren, Upson, Cole, Vernazza.
Referee: P Collina (Italy)
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