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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
thought Vieira was outstanding
 real 56k

Saturday, 26 August, 2000, 17:34 GMT 18:34 UK
Arsenal's eight-goal thriller
Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira celebrate
Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira celebrate
Arsenal 5-3 Charlton
real 14k BBC Five Live's Simon Hill reports from Highbury

Patrick Vieira signed off before his five-match suspension with two goals and no cards as Arsenal beat Charlton 5-3 in an incredible match at Highbury.

Arsenal had taken a first-half lead only for Charlton to take a 2-1 lead at half-time.

But in the second half the teams exchanged goals with Arsenal only clinching their win in the last minute.

There was little evidence of what was to come as Arsenal dominated possession early on without really threatening.


Thierry Henry had two speculative long-range efforts before the Gunners started to turn up the heat.

Robert Pires and Kanu then both had good chances before Vieira broke the deadlock on 19 minutes.

He was outstanding, exceptional. And his mental reaction to a crazy week for him was just great.
  Wenger on Vieira

Pires fed Kanu in the middle of the Charlton half and the Nigerian saw Vieira darting between the Charlton central defenders.

Showing no sign of his recent troubles the Frenchman coolly faked to shoot with his right and dinked the ball over the advancing Dean Kiely with his left.

His shirt came off in an extravagant celebration but referee Lodge kept his cards firmly in his pocket.


But the expected Arsenal procession did not materialise. Four minutes later Radostin Kishishev broke away down the Charlton right and a simple cross found Kevin Lisbie stretching and his deflection took the ball to Andy Hunt to tap in at the far post.

And things then got worse for Arsenal - just before the half hour John Robinson collected the ball wide on the left.

Checking back on to his right foot he curled another straight forward cross to the far post and Hunt rose above Tony Adams and Silvinho to head past David Seaman.

The goals gave Charlton the fillip to lift their game. Their passing showed an added confidence and their tackles a new edge. But Arsenal had the last two chances of the half.

First, on 36 minutes, Lee Dixon broke away down the right and his curling cross whistled past the head of Henry who was diving full length to get the touch.


Then Henry went close again clipping a free-kick a foot over the bar.

Whatever Arsene Wenger said at half-time had the desired effect as Arsenal found an equaliser straight after the break.

Vieira and Stuart tangle
Vieira and Stuart tangle
Henry received the ball five yards outside the Charlton area and chipped the ball up, controlled it on his thigh and dispatched it into the bottom corner with a sweet volley.

But Charlton were not about to give up - if anything the goal increased their resolve and they continued to trouble the Arsenal defence.

On 57 minutes the Highbury crowd held their breath as Vieira and Kishishev challenged for a high ball and the Charlton player went down theatrically - but referee Lodge saw no offence.


But, before the crowd could settle beck into their seats, Charlton were back in front.

Again the goal came from a cross - this time Lisbie broke down the left and found Graeme Stuart who clipped the ball past Seaman to make the score 3-2.

Faced with an embarrassing defeat Arsenal picked up the pace. First Lauren went close with a header from a corner and then Henry wriggled away from two defenders to put a dangerous cross in to the Charlton penalty area.

But when the goal came it was the man of the moment again - Kanu broke away down the right and cut the ball back for Vieira 25 yards out.

The Frenchman waited as the ball rolled to him and clipped a sweet shot first time into the bottom corner of Kiely's goal.


And the goals kept coming - on 67 minutes Kanu fed Gilles Grimandi and his whipped cross reached Henry who took the ball down and beat Kiely from the narrowest of angles.

With the players in danger of melting, the pace inevitably had to slow.

To come here, score three goals and not walk away with something is very hard, but it has been a harsh week for us
  Alan Curbishley

But Charlton were not about to give up and they had two notable chances to equalise and once again they came from crosses.

First Newton found himself free in the centre but volleyed the ball high over the bar with his left foot.

And with five minutes left Robinson volleyed dangerously but Seaman held on.

Arsenal finally made the game safe with a minute to go when Silvinho broke into the area and slid the ball into the far corner of the goal for 5-3.


Arsenal: Seaman, Dixon, Vieira, Keown, Adams, Pires, Lauren, Henry, Silvinho, Grimandi, Kanu. Subs: Ljungberg, Bergkamp, Luzhny, Lukic, Cole.

Charlton: Kiely, Kishishev, Powell, Stuart, Rufus, Tiler, Kinsella, Hunt, Robinson, Jensen, Lisbie. Subs: Newton, Brown, Ilic, Parker, Johansson.

Referee: S Lodge (Barnsley)

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See also:

24 Aug 00 |  Eng Prem
Curbishley: Red card cost us game
26 Aug 00 |  Photo Galleries
Saturday's Premiership action - in pictures
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