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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 March 2006, 16:54 GMT
Arsenal 3-0 Charlton
Robert Pires, Thierry Henry and Cesc Fabregas
Pires (left) scored after a superb counter-attack
Arsenal gave Charlton a lesson in free-flowing football as they swaggered to a crushing win at Highbury.

The Gunners' opening goal came after a slick four-man move, with Robert Pires converting Thierry Henry's cutback.

Emmanuel Adebayor, who should have had a hat-trick, took advantage of Hermann Hreidarsson's stumble to poke home the second as Arsenal totally dominated.

Alexsander Hleb volleyed in to make it 3-0 after a surging run, while Pires was denied a second goal by the post.

Charlton did not manage a strike of note all match and appeared relieved to hear the final whistle.

The visitors had come up against an Arsenal side in a rich vein of form - and in supremely confident mood.

And the Addicks left Highbury, after visiting for the final time, bemused and embarrassed.

So superior were Arsenal that Charlton would not have scored had they played continuously for the 50 days that Highbury will remain Arsenal's ground before their move to Ashburton Grove.

Cesc Fabregas ran the midfield, Adebayor was alert and a constant danger up front, while the Charlton defence contributed to their own downfall.

First Jonathan Spector slipped and presented Adebayor with a chance but the Togo striker hesitated and allowed the on-loan Manchester United youngster to make a recovering tackle.

Henry, who was unmarked at the back post, thumped his fist into the ground to show his disgust at not receiving a pass.

But the Arsenal strike pair were in tune on 13 minutes when Henry collected a pass from Hleb and played a one-two with Adebayor on the edge of the box.

The Frenchman then picked out compatriot Pires superbly, and he tucked his shot into the right corner.

Adebayor then nodded wide after a pin-point cross from Henry before Arsenal's January signing finally scored - after another Charlton error.

Hreidarsson trod on the ball in his penalty area and Adebayor stole in to steer the ball beyond Thomas Myhre

The outstanding Henry went close with a curling free-kick as Arsenal cruised, while Charlton clung on.

It took only four minutes after the restart for Arsenal to breach the visitors' rearguard for a third time.

Hleb picked up the ball on the halfway line and made rapid progress to the Charlton penalty area.

He laid the ball off to Adebayor, whose shot was blocked and rebounded back to the Belarus midfielder, who lashed the ball home.

The only surprise of the afternoon was that Arsenal did not score more - the closest they came to a fourth was when Pires struck a low shot against the post.

  • Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger:
    "We dominated the game. We scored early on and sometimes it became too easy for us.

    "But the confidence is back in the team and we have found the way we want to play the game.

    "It is enjoyable to see how quickly the young players have improved and how strong they look. I am very, very happy for them and for the club."

  • Charlton boss Alan Curbishley:
    "We gave a typical performance from our recent visits to Highbury - and Arsenal's performance was typical for them.

    "We found ourselves 2-0 down quickly and you are not going to come back from that against a side as good as them - and especially the way they were playing.

    "Some of the football Arsenal played in the first half, we had no chance of living with it and I don't think a lot of clubs would have."

    Arsenal: Lehmann, Eboue, Toure, Senderos, Flamini, Hleb (Van Persie 68), Fabregas (Song Billong 78), Silva, Pires, Henry, Adebayor (Bergkamp 68).
    Subs Not Used: Almunia, Djourou.

    Goals: Pires 13, Adebayor 32, Hleb 49.

    Charlton: Myhre, Young (Powell 73), Hreidarsson, Perry, Spector, Rommedahl, Euell, Hughes (Bartlett 45), Kishishev, Thomas (Holland 65), Darren Bent.
    Subs Not Used: Andersen, Sorondo.

    Booked: Young.

    Att: 38,223

    Ref: D Gallagher (Oxfordshire).

    Interview: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger

    Interview: Charlton boss Alan Curbishley

    Saturday's football photos
    18 Mar 06 |  Photo Galleries


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