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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 May 2006, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
Arsenal 4-2 Wigan
Hat-trick hero Thierry Henry
Henry scored a brilliant hat-trick to say goodbye to Highbury
Thierry Henry hit a fine hat-trick as Arsenal secured fourth place in the Premiership and a Champions League spot by beating Wigan in Highbury's finale.

In the last game at their 93-year-old stadium, the Gunners took the lead when Robert Pires struck from close range.

Wigan hit back when Paul Scharner poked in and then David Thompson curled home.

Henry twice slotted home before bagging a penalty after Andreas Johansson was sent off for a foul - and it was enough for fourth as Spurs lost at West Ham.

The Gunners needed to better Spurs' result to finish above their rivals and the Hammers' 2-1 victory did them a massive favour.

The atmosphere at an emotionally-charged Highbury was electric, with an almost carnival-like feel to proceedings early on.

But Arsenal had a game to win and, with only eight minutes on the clock, they took a deserved lead as Pires slammed in after Mike Pollitt saved his initial effort.

News filtered through that Spurs had gone behind at West Ham but as it appeared to be going according to Arsenal's script, Wigan decided they wanted to tear it up.

Thompson whipped over a free-kick and, with the Gunners defence sleeping, Scharner stole in to poke the ball past Gunners keeper Jens Lehmann.

It nearly became even worse for the hosts. Jason Roberts got the better of Sol Campbell and was felled by the defender in the area but, amazingly, Uriah Rennie turned down Wigan's appeals.

From then on, it was mostly Arsenal. Pires sliced wide, Gilberto fired over, Cesc Fabregas dazzled with his fancy footwork and Henry lurked menacingly in the Wigan half.

But maybe Lehmann forgot to read the script too. He stood 12 yards out of his goal for a Thompson free-kick 40 yards out and the midfielder simply curled the ball into the unguarded corner to make it 2-1.

Arsenal fans gave Highbury a fitting send off
Arsenal fans gave Highbury a fitting send off

Arsenal needed inspiration and Henry, again, provided it. Pires slipped him through and the Frenchman slotted home his 135th Highbury goal.

But Spurs had levelled and Arsenal were once again fifth. They started the second half nervously, as Lee McCulloch and Roberts both blasted good chances over for the Latics.

Once more Henry stepped up to the plate but this time he was gift-wrapped a present by Thompson's woeful backpass and made no mistake, rounding Pollitt and tapping in.

Arsenal were in the driving seat again and they made sure of the three points when Johansson was dismissed for bringing down Freddie Ljungberg and Henry coolly converted the penalty.

He knelt onto the famous Highbury turf and kissed it and a minute later Highbury was in ecstasy as news filtered through of West Ham's winner at Upton Park.

Dennis Bergkamp came on for what may be his final Arsenal performance and the Dutch master tried his best to conjure up a goal but to no avail.

After the game there was a parade of Arsenal legends around Highbury and a celebration of the ground as a clock ticked down to signal the end of an era.

On an afternoon fraught by tension, the majority of the 38,359 left the ground with one final, magnificent memory of the famous old stadium.

  • Wigan manager Paul Jewell:
    "Uriah Rennie likes to make history, something was bound to happen. We just don't get penalties at Arsenal.

    "And to send off Andreas Johansson was nonsense really. When you look back in years to come, Rennie's name will be in the record books and he'll like that.

    "But I want to say how proud I am of my team. We have had a fantastic time, we've done exceptionally well."

    Arsenal: Lehmann, Eboue, Toure, Campbell, Cole, Hleb (Van Persie 79), Fabregas, Silva, Pires (Ljungberg 74), Reyes (Bergkamp 79), Henry.
    Subs Not Used: Almunia, Djourou.

    Booked: Fabregas.

    Goals: Pires 8, Henry 35, 56, 76 pen.

    Wigan: Pollitt, Chimbonda, Jackson, Scharner, Baines, Thompson (Johansson 73), Kavanagh, Ziegler (Francis 66), McCulloch, Roberts, Camara (Connolly 82).
    Subs Not Used: Henchoz, Wright.

    Sent Off: Johansson (76).

    Booked: Jackson.

    Goals: Scharner 10, Thompson 33.

    Att: 38,359.

    Ref: U Rennie (S Yorkshire).

    Interview: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger

    Interview: Wigan boss Paul Jewell

    Interview: Thierry Henry

    Highbury finale photos
    08 May 06 |  Photo Galleries
    Sunday's football photos
    07 May 06 |  Photo Galleries


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