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Everton boss Walter Smith
"The second half we deserved no better than we got"
 real 56k

BBC Sport's Pat Murphy reports
"The Highbury patient is now sitting up in bed"
 real 14k

Saturday, 21 April, 2001, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
Arsenal crush Everton
Freddie Ljungberg celebrates Arsenal's first against Everton
Freddie Ljungberg celebrates Arsenal's first goal
Arsenal 4-1 Everton

Arsenal comfortably disposed of woeful Everton at Highbury to stay on course for a Champions League place .

Arsene Wenger's side bounced back from their Champions League exit with a stylish second-half show - but left Walter Smith's struggling Everton still waiting to secure Premiership safety.

But the game was put in the shade with a bizarre after-match development when Everton's Ghanaian midfield man Alex Nyarko claimed he was quitting football.

Nyarko was approached by an Everton fan angry about his listless performance - and promptly demanded to be substituted.

I don't think anyone can complain about a supporter showing his displeasure about the way we were playing out there - we were non-existent in the second half
  Everton manager Walter Smith
He later announced he was not prepared to accept such treatment from supporters and revealed he has now retired from top-flight football.

Nyarko has been a bitter disappointment since his 4.5m arrival from Lens last summer, and received little sympathy from boss Smith.

It capped a humiliating afternoon for Everton, who were outclassed in all departments by Arsenal.

Arsenal were kept at bay in a lack-lustre first half, but ran riot in the second as Everton gave up the game long before the final whistle.

It puts Arsenal in pole position to re-enter Europe's showpiece competition next season, but in truth they had little serious opposition from an Everton side who are ending the season in disarray.

Everton still need more points to retain their Premiership status, but they may well be rescued by the failings of others in the drop zone.

The Merseysiders had brief hope when former Arsenal striker Kevin Campbell equalised Freddie Ljungberg's strike - but they were emphatically snuffed out after the break.

Henry beats Everton's Weir
Henry beats Everton's Weir
Arsenal's French trio of Gilles Grimandi, Sylvain Wiltord and Thierry Henry were all on target as the Gunners romped home.

Everton's season-long injury problems continued - with Duncan Ferguson, Richard Gough, Steve Watson and David Unsworth all ruled out after the Easter Monday derby defeat against Liverpool.

Arsenal also suffered a damaging midweek defeat in the Champions League against Valencia - and both teams started as if nursing heavy hangovers.

The first-half was difficult for us but from the moment we scored the second goal you could see we were not afraid any more
  Arsene Wenger
Arsenal manager
The Gunners scored in the first attack of note with a sweetly created goal after 21 minutes.

Henry split the Everton defence with a short pass and Ljungberg's shot was only half stopped by keeper Paul Gerrard and the ball rolled agonisingly over the line.

Everton responded inside three minutes when a clever lofted flick by Thomas Gravesen unlocked Arsenal's offside trap for Highbury old boy Campbell to score at the second attempt.

The remainder of the first half was dire fare - but Arsenal responded to boss Wenger's half-time team talk after the break.

Wenger still on course
Wenger still on course
Arsenal deservedly went ahead in the 56th minute when Grimandi powered a Robert Pires corner past Gerrard.

This desperately mediocre Everton side were out of contention and Arsenal were further in front after 67 minutes with another delightful goal of French creation.

Vieira powered through the heart of Everton's midfield and found his France colleague Wiltord, who turned Pistone before scoring via the crossbar.

It was all too much for one angry Everton fan who invaded the pitch and remonstrated with Ghanaian midfield man Alex Nyarko, demanding to swap shirts.

Smith still worried
Smith still worried
The supporter was led away by police, but Nyarko was clearly distressed by the incident and had a debate with the Everton bench before carrying on.

Five minutes later he was replaced by Idan Tal, when Everton also sent on Joe-Max Moore for Niclas Alexandersson.

And Everton's woeful afternoon got worse with ten minutes left when Xavier, who had already been booked for a foul on Henry, was sent off for a clumsy challenge on Ashley Cole.

Arsenal added insult to injury when Henry added a fourth after rounding Gerrard with four minutes left - a true reflection of a one-sided encounter.

Arsenal: Seaman, Dixon, Keown, Adams, Cole, Pires, Grimandi, Vieira, Ljungberg, Wiltord, Henry. Subs: Stepanovs, Manninger, Silvinho, Malz, Vivas.

Everton: Gerrard, Ball, Weir, Pistone, Xavier, Gemmill, Gravesen, Nyarko, Pembridge, Alexandersson, Campbell. Subs: Simonsen, Moore, Jevons, Hibbert, Tal.

Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury)

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See also:

19 Apr 01 |  Everton
Everton's stadium boost
17 Apr 01 |  Everton
Everton sorry for silence snub
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