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  Tuesday, 22 October, 2002, 20:38 GMT 21:38 UK
Auxerre stun Arsenal
Arsenal's Freddie Ljungberg is tackled by Auxerre's Jean-Alain Boumsong
Jean-Alain Boumsong created Auxerre's second goal
Arsenal 1-2 Auxerre

Arsenal tumbled to their second successive defeat and their first loss in the Champions League as Auxerre gave Arsene Wenger's side a huge surprise.

Both at home and abroad Arsenal have destroyed their opponents playing some wonderful football, but for a large part of Tuesday the boot was on the other foot.

Olivier Kapo gave Auxerre an early lead with a wonderful strike and midway through the first half Khalilou Fadiga scored again with a neat finish.

  Key incidents
8 mins: Kapo fires Auxerre 1-0 up
27 mins: Fadiga scores to make it 2-0
53 mins: Kanu gives Arsenal hope
71 mins: Pires returns to action after injury

Kanu revived Arsenal's hopes of retrieving something from the match when he pulled a goal back on 52 minutes but his strike proved a false dawn.

If Arsenal's staccato performance ultimately left the Highbury crowd frustrated, at least the return of Robert Pires brightened the mood.

The Frenchman made his long-awaited return on 71 minutes, seven months after he suffered a serious knee ligament injury.

But understandably, last season's Football Writers' Player of the Year was unable to change the game's course, though late on he tested Fabien Cool with a long-range shot.

The result means Arsenal stilll lead group A on nine points, two ahead of Borussia Dortmund.

And with a home game to come against PSV Eindhoven, it would be a major shock if Arsene Wenger's side failed to qualify for the last 16.

As Arsenal spluttered their way through the opening period, three shots from Kanu provided some glimmer of hope.

Soon after the restart the Nigerian's persistence in getting into the box paid off when he calmly stroked home Thierry Henry's cross.

For the remainder of the half Arsenal huffed and puffed, but all too no avail.

On the evidence of this display the mystery is why Auxerre had managed to accumulate just a single point before Tuesday's game.

So devastating was Kapo's goal in its exeuction that it produced a collective intake of breath to leave Highbury hushed.

Kanu's goal gave Arsenal hope
Kanu was Arsenal's most effective striker

Picking the ball up from from Yann Lachuer's throw-in on the Arsenal right, the striker poked the ball through Patrick Vieira's legs and then arced a fierce shot past Seaman.

Soon after Kanu's goal, Seaman came to Arsenal's rescue when he scampered across his goal to block Benjamin Mwaruwari's shot.

Even so Seaman again had no chance when just before the half-hour Fadiga doubled Auxerre's lead.

The influential Senegalese midfielder owed a huge debt to the skill and persistence of Auxerre's powerful defender Jean-Alain Boumsong.

The French Under-21 international reached the edge of the box and his final lunge ensured the ball richocheted to Fadiga, who looped the ball over Seaman.


Arsenal: Seaman, Lauren (Toure 77), Campbell, Cygan, Cole, Ljungberg, Vieira, Silva (Pires 71), Wiltord, Henry, Kanu.
Subs Not Used: Shaaban, Edu, Pennant, Luzhny, Stepanovs.

Booked: Campbell, Vieira.

Auxerre: Cool, Radet, Boumsong, Mexes, Jaures, Faye, Lachuer, Tainio, Fadiga, Mwaruwari, Kapo Obou.
Subs Not Used: Hamel, Grichting, Mathis, Marin, Gonzales, Doumbe, Sirieix.

Booked: Boumsong, Faye.

Attendance: 35,206

Referee: Donenisco Messina (Italy).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Jonathan Pearce
"Arsenal were out of sorts"
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger
"We were not sharp enough"
Arsenal's Patrick Vieira
"Auxerre played a perfect away game"

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Tuesday's games

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