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Last Updated: Monday, 1 May 2006, 18:07 GMT 19:07 UK
Sunderland 0-3 Arsenal
Cesc Fabregas, left, and Robert Pires
Cesc Fabregas, left, celebrates his strike with Robert Pires
Arsenal's hopes of a top-four finish remain very much alive after they eased past relegated and luckless Sunderland.

The Black Cats had the better of the opening exchanges, but fell behind when Danny Collins headed into his own net.

Cesc Fabregas' clipped finish made it 2-0 and Thierry Henry added a third with a neat free-kick before half-time.

Thereafter, Kevin Kyle twice failed to make the most of good chances, while Ashley Cole's second-half appearance rounded off a good day for the Gunners.

Sunderland started with four strikers on the pitch, with Jon Stead and Darryl Murphy asked to play in wide positions, and actually looked the more settled side for much of the first half.

With Arsenal struggling to get their passing game together, Kyle was a thorn in the Gunners' side and his glancing header on 15 minutes was saved at the second attempt by Lehmann, before he blasted Chris Brown's lay-off just wide 10 minutes later.

However, the visitors assumed control on 29 minutes when Henry's left-wing free-kick was headed into his own net by Sunderland defender Collins under pressure from Abou Diaby.

And it went from bad to worse for the hosts when they fell further behind minutes after Stead had limped off with a twisted knee.

First Henry set Fabregas free for the Spaniard to chip home from eight yards, and then the Frenchman netted himself when he curled a delightful free-kick into Kelvin Davis' near post.

The Black Cats continued to show their fighting qualities in the second half but the poor finishing that has blighted their season was in full evidence as Arsenal's mistakes continued to go unpunished.

Sol Campbell in particular looked short of form and fitness but Kyle wasted the first effort of the half when he side-footed straight at Lehmann.

The Black Cats striker then brought the save of the match from the German international when his firm header was tipped around the post at full stretch.

Arsenal were rarely threatened after that though and they almost scored a fourth when Henry's volley rebounded off Davis onto the post.

But the Gunners were clearly happy to see out a comfortable win - only their fifth away from home all season.

Left-back Cole, missing since sustaining an ankle injury in February, came on as a 66th-minute substitute to complete a decent day's work, although manager Arsene Wenger was clearly worried after a two-footed lunge by Dan Smith ended Diaby's match in the dying minutes.


  • Sunderland caretaker manager Kevin Ball:
    "In my opinion, I felt Dan Smith did go for the ball and the lad knocked it away and he accidentally caught him.

    "Yes, it isn't an injury you want to see happen to a player.

    "But he went for the ball and the player passed it quicker than Dan could get there."

  • Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
    "We know that Thierry can do these things, he does it so often for us.

    "He took his goal well and set up the other two. That's the thing about him, he can score and provide.

    "We want to make the maximum points and see how far it takes us now."


    Sunderland: Davis, Nosworthy, Breen, Danny Collins, McCartney, Stead (Le Tallec 33), Whitehead, Miller (Leadbitter 82), Daryl Murphy (Smith 62), Brown, Kyle.
    Subs Not Used: Caldwell, Alnwick.

    Booked: Kyle, McCartney, Smith.

    Arsenal: Lehmann, Eboue, Toure, Campbell, Clichy, Fabregas, Diaby, Song Billong, Pires (Cole 65), Henry (Bergkamp 72), Adebayor (Van Persie 65).
    Subs Not Used: Poom, Djourou.

    Goals: Danny Collins 29 og, Fabregas 40, Henry 43.

    Att: 44,003.

    Ref: D Gallagher (Oxfordshire).




  • WATCH AND LISTEN
    Interview: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger


    Interview: Sunderland caretaker boss Kevin Ball



    SEE ALSO
    Monday's football photos
    01 May 06 |  Photo Galleries


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    FROM OTHER SPORT SITES:
    CNN Arsenal unhappy after Diaby injury - 26 hrs ago
    FOXSports.com Sunderland 0 Arsenal 3 - 33 hrs ago
    Daily Mail Arsenal fury over Sunderland clash - 36 hrs ago
    Mirror Wenger Blast As Diaby Is Crocked - 36 hrs ago
    Sporting Life Cole Set To Step Up Comeback - 37 hrs ago


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