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  Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 21:38 GMT
Henry hammers Roma
Arsenal's Thierry Henry has scored six goals in seven Champions League games
Henry gives Arsenal a head start in Group B
AS Roma 1-3 Arsenal
E-mail your reaction to Football Talk

A Thierry Henry hat-trick gave Arsenal the perfect start to their Group B campaign as Arsene Wenger's side reaffirmed their new-found ability to win away in Europe.

Arsenal had the worst possible start going behind to Antonio Cassano's fourth-minute goal.

But, before the Olympic Stadium cheers had subsided, Henry levelled the scores with a sublime finish.

The French international scored again to give Arsenal the lead on 70 minutes and soon after completed his hat-trick with a superbly taken free-kick.

  Key facts
1: Arsenal win over Roma was their first away victory in Italy in 22 years
2: Henry's hat-trick propelled him into joint fourth place in the all time top scorer table, trailing only Raul, Alessandro Del Piero and Patrick Kluivert

A gripping encounter threw up a game of the highest quality as play switched from end to end, with both teams pursuing a strategy of swift counterattacks.

Henry's work along the front was prodigious, particularly down the left where he exposed Christian Panucci's defensive weakness.

Conversely, Roma exploited the channel between Oleg Luzhny and Sol Campbell on the Arsenal right.

Amid that occasional defensive uncertainity, Pascal Cygan came to the fore, arguably producing his finest performance since joining Arsenal.

His best moment came just before the half-hour, when he somehow managed to deflect Francesco Totti's vicious volley off the line with his knee.

In a frantic opening, another Cygan last-ditch tackle rescued Shaaban, but David Seaman's replacement enjoyed no such reprieve with Roma's next attack.

Arsenal's Gilberto Silva and Roma's Emerson compete for the ball
Gilberto's pass set up Henry's first goal

With Ashley Cole failing to push up, Totti threaded the ball between Luzhny and Campbell to Cassano, who checked, before slipping his shot past Shaaban.

The manner of the goal raised the spectre of some of Arsenal's past European away experiences, but within two minutes Wenger's side were level.

Gilberto Silva's pass took out Panucci and Henry's right-foot shot curled round Francesco Antonioli's despairing hand.

Inspired by that breakaway goal, Arsenal flooded forward, with Gilberto and Patrick Vieira advancing forward to support Henry and Sylvain Wiltord.

From one such attack, Gilberto almost latched on to Frederik Ljungberg's cross, but Antonioli did well to parry the Swede's pass out of the Brazilian's leggy reach.

On 70 minutes Henry's opportunism gave Arsenal the lead.

Luzhny's cross from the right should have been cleared by Panucci, but Henry outmuscled the Roma defender and then reacted quickly to slam the ball past Antonioli.

The Frenchman saved his best to last as he floated a free-kick over the Roma wall into the corner of the net, with Antonioli only able to look on.

Roma: Antonioli, Panucci, Candela, Cafu, Zebina , Samuel, Lima (Batistuta 73), Emerson, Cassano (Montella 64), Delvecchio (Guigou 57), Totti.
Subs Not Used: Pelizzoli, Cufre, Bombardini, Guardiola.

Booked: Samuel, Emerson, Batistuta.

Arsenal: Shaaban, Cole, Campbell, Luzhny, Cygan, Ljungberg (Edu 90), Vieira, Silva, Wiltord (Keown 84), Henry, Pires (van Bronckhorst 78).
Subs Not Used: Taylor, Jeffers, Stepanovs, Volz.

Attendance: 70,000.

Referee: L Michel (Slovakia).

BBC Five Live's Dave Woods
"Arsenal were outstanding"
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger
"It was a great team performance"
Arsenal's Thierry Henry
"Everyone showed great attutitude"
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