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Sunday, 17 March, 2002, 17:55 GMT
Arsenal see off Villa
Edu gave Arsenal the lead after 15 minutes of their match at Villa
Edu, left, celebrates his first Premier League goal
Aston Villa 1-2 Arsenal
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Arsenal moved into second place in the Premier League with a tense victory over Aston Villa.

The match turned on Gareth Barry's 55th minute penalty, which David Seaman brilliantly saved.

  Key moments
15 mins: Edu scores for Arsenal
55 mins: Seaman saves Barry's penalty
60 mins: Pires brilliantly doubles Arsenal's lead
69 mins: Dublin scores for Villa
Arsenal were defending a slim 1-0 lead following Edu's first-half goal - and five minutes after the penalty miss Robert Pires scored a superb goal to take the match beyond Villa.

Substitute Dion Dublin scored after 69 minutes to give Graham Taylor's team hope of salvaging a positive result.

But despite his team's valiant efforts to score an equaliser, Arsenal held on to collect a valuable three points as they challenge Manchester United for the Premier League top spot.

Patrick Vieira should have opened the scoring in the seventh minute.

The midfielder was completely unmarked as he met Dennis Bergkamp's curling free-kick, but the Frenchman headed wide from six yards.

It was a massive win for us - it was hard but it's a great result.
Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman
Arsenal did take the lead after 15 minutes.

Peter Schmeichel could only parry Sylvain Wiltord's free-kick and Vieira - reacting first - shot goalwards from short range.

Villa's Danish goalkeeper again smothered the shot but the ball broke to Edu, who slotted home for his first Premier League goal.

The home team felt aggrieved with the award of the free-kick, which was awarded for a supposedly high challenge by Hassan Kachloul on Edu.

Villa almost immediately restored parity but David Seaman saved Darius Vassell's shot from an acute angle.

We didn't really get playing until the second half.
Villa boss Graham Taylor
The home team forced several corners as they pushed for an equaliser but failed to trouble Seaman throughout the remainder of the half.

Villa should have equalised after 55 minutes, but Gareth Barry's penalty was amazingly saved by Seaman.

Television replays showed referee Steve Dunn had correctly awarded the spot kick for a trip on Barry by second-half substitute Lee Dixon.

But Seaman - diving to his right - made a brilliant one-handed save to preserve Arsenal's lead in front of England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, who watched the game from the stands.

Barry's failure to score was further punished by Pires, who scored an amazing goal five minutes later.

Vieira was in commanding form for Arsenal
Vieira is foiled by Schmeichel

Pires latched onto a sweeping left-to-right pass, flicked the ball past George Boateng - completely taking the Dutchman out of the equation in the process - and lobbed it over Schmeichel from 14 yards.

Villa forced their way back into the game with a goal created and scored by the two players manager Graham Taylor introduced at the start of the second half.

Dublin headed Mustapha Hadji's cross past Seaman after 69 minutes to set-up an exciting conclusion to the game.

Aston Villa: Schmeichel, Delaney, Mellberg, Staunton, Samuel, Kachloul (Hadji 45), Boateng, Hitzlsperger, Barry, Merson (Hendrie 79), Vassell (Dublin 45). Subs Not Used: Enckelman, Stone.

Booked: Boateng.

Arsenal: Seaman, Lauren, Campbell, Stepanovs (Dixon 45), Luzhny, Ljungberg (Grimandi 71), Vieira, Edu, Pires, Bergkamp (Kanu 76), Wiltord. Subs Not Used: Wright, Tavlaridis.

Booked: Luzhny, Ljungberg.

Att: 41,520

Ref: S Dunn (Bristol).

BBC Sport's Simon Brotherton
"A big win for Arsenal"
Aston Villa boss Graham Taylor
"We deserved to get something out of the game"
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger
"We needed to fight and we did"
Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.


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