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BBC Sport's Simon Brotherton
"Schalke were no push-overs"
 real 14k

Arsenal striker Dennis Bergkamp
"We are in a much better position now"
 real 14k

Wednesday, 19 September, 2001, 20:59 GMT 21:59 UK
Henry eases Arsenal nerves
Arsenal celebrate Henry's second strike
Henry and Arsenal breathe a big sigh of relief
Arsenal survived a nervous night at Highbury to open their Champions League account with a vital victory.

Thierry Henry was the Gunners' hero, scoring twice as Arsene Wenger's side shrugged off the disappointment of last week's opening-round defeat in Mallorca.

  Key moments
2 mins: Mpenza wastes a glorious chance to open the scoring
34 mins: Ljungberg's deflected shot puts Arsenal ahead
36 mins: Henry turns and scores to put Arsenal two up
43 mins: van Hoogdalem pulls a goal back for Schalke
46 mins: Henry strokes home from the spot after Vieira is felled
59 mins: Mpenza heads home to give Schalke hope
The Frenchman's cool head in front of goal proved crucial on a night when Arsenal's makeshift defence creaked with alarming regularity.

In fact, had Emile Mpenza been more clinical for the German visitors, the scoreline would have proved very different.

The Belgian international striker could have helped himself to a hat-trick inside the opening 12 minutes.

But he lashed wide of David Seaman's goal in the second minute and then blazed over the bar after outpacing the Arsenal defence on both occasions.

Freddie Ljungberg celebrates the opener
Freddie Ljungberg celebrates the opener
Then, the little striker flicked a shot straight at Seaman after beating the offside trap.

There were mitigating circumstances for Arsenal, who were without Tony Adams, Sol Campbel and Lee Dixon because of injury, while Ashley Cole was suspended following a red card in Mallorca.

Even so, their defending was more Sunday League than Champions League.

With so much uncertainty at the back, goals were vital for the Gunners.

The first duly arrived with a major slice of fortune on 34 minutes.

Fredrik Ljungberg ran clear from the half-way line but, having arrived at the penalty area, appeared to have fluffed his left-foot shot.

Gilles Grimandi stretches to deny Emile Mpenza
Gilles Grimandi stretches to deny Emile Mpenza
But Tomasz Waldoch's deflection took the ball out of the reach of veteran goalkeeper Oliver Reck to hand Arsenal a crucial advantage.

With the tension released, Arsenal doubled their advantage within two minutes.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst, playing in a left wing-back role, stole forward and squared the ball for Henry to spin on to and steer a low shot into the bottom left-hand corner.

The strike provided a finishing lesson for Schalke and that, in truth, should have been that.

But this was not the Arsenal defence of old - or even of this season - and Arsenal were never going to be comfortable sitting on their lead.

Marco van Hoogdalem hauled Schalke back into contention on the stroke of half-time, blazing home on the half-volley after Victor Agali had narrowly failed to reach Andreas Moller's teasing cross.

But any revised half-time team-talks were rendered useless by Arsenal's start to the second half.

Patrick Vieira was sent scampering clear in the opening seconds and collapsed in a heap under a sliding challenge from Reck.

Ray Parlour (left) and Andreas Moller
Ray Parlour and Andreas Moller battle it out
A penalty was the instant verdict and Henry provuded an emphatic finish to reinstate the two-goal cushion.

But victory was never going to come easily for Arsenal and Mpenza finally accepted one of many defensive gifts to pull Schalke back into contention.

Joerg Boehme's cross should have been dealt with confortably, but eluded the entire Arsenal defence and allowed Mpenza to send a diving header beyond Seaman's despairing dive.

Sylvain Wiltord fluffed a golden chance to ease Arsenal's nerves after Reck had parried Van Bronkhorst's free kick and the palputations intensified late on when susbstitute Asamoah dipped an effort onto the face of the crossbar.

But Arsenal held on and the only remaining statistic saw Junichi Inamoto become the first Japanese player to appear in the latter stages of the competition when he was introduced as a substitute for his Arsenal debut.

Arsenal: Seaman, Lauren, Keown, Grimandi, van Bronckhorst, Ljungberg, Parlour, Vieira, Pires, Henry, Wiltord. Subs: Wright, Jeffers, Bergkamp, Inamoto, Upson, Kanu, Stepanovs.

Schalke: Reck, Hajto, Waldoch, Van Kerckhoven, Kamphuis, Van Hoogdalem, Moller, Vermant, Bohme, Agali, Mpenza. Subs: Grodas, Matellan, Mulder, Thon, Asamoah, Djordjevic, Buskens.

Referee: C Colombo (France)

See also:

19 Sep 01 |  Champions League
Nantes stun Lazio
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