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Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger
"We wanted the three points"
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banner Wednesday, 27 September, 2000, 20:51 GMT 21:51 UK
Ljungberg double guns down Lazio
Freddie Ljungberg
Freddie Ljungberg celebrates his second goal
Arsenal 2-0 Lazio

Arsenal gunned down Champions League favourites Lazio to maintain their perfect record, thanks to a double whammy from Freddie Ljungberg.

The super Swede struck either side of half time to send Arsene Wenger's side clear at the top of Group B at the half-way stage - and make a mockery of Lazio's pre-tournament odds.

The Italians came into the game on the back of two straight wins in the competition and were clearly intent on making life tough for the Gunners as Highbury suffered a frustrating opening spell as they barely got a sniff of goal.

But Arsene Wenger's side slowly began to take control, squeezing Lazio at the back and putting central defender Sinisa Mihajlovic under increasing pressure.

The Yugoslav defender was wearing a protective mask after suffering a facial injury a fortnight ago and Arsenal tested his nerve with some dangerous balls into the box.

Thierry Henry and Dejan Stankovic
Thierry Henry takes on Dejan Stankovic

Mihajlovic coped admirably, but the Italians did look vulnerable with balls played into feet.

That was highlighted midway through the first half, when Kanu played Henry into space, but the pass fell too short and saw the Frenchman bend a shot over the bar.

Kanu was again the architect when his downward header teed up Martin Keown, but the defender was denied a goal to add to last week's Champions' League double as Luca Marchegiani saved well low to his right.

Lazio's second-string keeper was again alert to deny the forward rushing Henry and, from the resulting corner, Marchegiani was again called into action from Tony Adams' side-foot volley.

Increasing pressure

Arsenal were calling all the shots, while Lazio's only threats came from a pair of Mihajlovic free kicks which flew over, then wide.

Arsenal's increasing pressure finally paid off three minutes before the break, when Ljungberg made the breakthrough with a superbly-worked goal.

Kanu again unlocked the Italian defence with a clever ball over the top and Bergkamp cushioned a header into the path of Ljungberg, who swept a half-volley into Marchegiani's top right-hand corner.

For all the threat of Kanu, Henry and Bergkamp, it was the Swede who struck again three minutes into the second half, though Bergkamp was once again the creator.

The Dutch striker's pentrating run into the penalty area had Lazio back-pedalling and he pushed an inch-perfect pass into the path of Ljungberg, who held off substitute Atillio Lombardo to stroke home his second.

Lazio's game plan was in tatters, but it could have been worse on the hour when a mistake from captain Alessandro Nesta let in Kanu, who was only denied by another piece of outstanding goalkeeping as the Italian stopper dived at his feet with Kanu looking to pounce.

A goal there would have summed up a miserable night for Nesta, but for Arsenal skipper Adams it was a triumphant return from injury.

The central defender proved his fitness to club and country and underlined his form with a wonderfully-timed tackle to deny Marcelo Salas just inside the Arsenal box with 20 minutes left.

At the other end, Ljungberg was denied a hat-trick by yet more goalkeeping. Had it not been for Marchegiani, Lazio would have needed a whole set of Mihajlovic masks to hide their blushes.


Arsenal: Seaman, Vieira, Keown, Adams, Ljungberg, Bergkamp (Vivas 79), Henry (Wiltord 84), Parlour, Silvinho, Luzhny, Kanu.
Subs Not Used: Lukic, Dixon, Grimandi, Cole, Vernazza.

Lazio: Marchegiani, Negro, Lopez, Mihajlovic, Nesta, Simeone, Pancaro, Nedved, Stankovic (Lombardo 45), Inzaghi (Salas 57), Veron, Lombardo (Ravanelli 73).
Subs Not Used: Orlandini, Couto, Colonnese, Sensini.

Referee: Jose Garcia-Aranda (Spain)

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26 Sep 00 |  Champions League
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