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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 December, 2004, 21:31 GMT
Arsenal 5-1 Rosenborg
Arsenal players congratulate Jose Reyes on his goal
Arsenal eased into the knockout stages of the Champions League with a comfortable victory over Rosenborg.

Arsenal never looked back after Jose Antonio Reyes fired them into a third-minute lead, an advantage doubled by Thierry Henry's lob on 24 minutes.

Cesc Fabregas made it 3-0 on 29 minutes after some poor defending, before Erik Hoftun hooked in to reduce the deficit.

A Robert Pires penalty on 41 minutes gave Arsenal a 4-1 half-time lead, and Robin van Persie sealed it late on.

The Dutchman's late goal sealed an emphatic win which, coupled with PSV Eindhoven's defeat at Panathinaikos, was enough to put the Gunners top of Group E.

Yet the Gunners were grateful for Reyes' early strike in a match they knew they had to win to ensure qualification from the group stages.

The Spaniard's low left-foot shot inside three minutes flew past Espen Johnsen and set the tone for the early stages, which Arsenal dominated.

A deflected shot from Reyes forced a good save from Espen Johnsen, and Henry just failed to connect with a Pires cross as the Gunners threatened to seal the game early on.

But Rosenborg did threaten, and Manuel Almunia was forced into a brilliant save from Harald Brattbakk on 17 minutes, the Arsenal stopper tipping a goal-bound shot around the post.

Any nerves the home fans had about the Gunners' inability to hold on to a lead in Europe this season were eased seven minutes later.

Henry raced on to Matthieu Flamini's hopeful forward ball and nipped in between Torjus Hansen and Johnsen to lob home.

And as Rosenborg wobbled, Fabregas took full advantage of some woeful defending to make it 3-0 just before the half-hour, volleying home from eight yards after Pires' pass.

The visitors were not entirely toothless, and rallied with Roar Strand heading the ball against the outside of the post from Brattbakk's cross.

And Arsenal's secure-looking lead suddenly appeared a touch fragile on 37 minutes, as Hoftun hooked the ball in after a terrible fumble by Almunia from Brattbakk's cross.

But Norwegian hopes of a famous comeback were short-lived as, three minutes later, Pires slotted home a penalty following a challenge by Johnsen on Henry - a decision which appeared to be harsh on the keeper.

Arsenal's comfortable lead did them few favours at the start of the second half, as they appeared content to sit back and allow Rosenborg to attack.

The Norwegians rarely threatened Almunia, although the crowd appeared frustrated at the home side's inability to find their fluent passing game.

Henry fashioned a chance on the hour mark, but the angle was tight and his shot hit the side netting.

Substitute Van Persie fired well wide when in a good position after an astute through pass from Pires as Arsenal picked up the pace late on.

A much better shot from Van Persie forced a good save from Johnsen, while a Reyes chip was just over the bar.

Van Persie then had time to rifle wide before finally netting in the 84th minute, dinking the ball over Johnsen after Reyes' through pass.

Arsenal: Almunia, Hoyte, Campbell, Toure, Cole (Van Persie 75), Pires (Owusu-Abeyie 88), Fabregas, Flamini, Reyes, Bergkamp (Clichy 71), Henry. Subs Not Used: Lehmann, Ljungberg, Senderos, Larsson.

Booked: Flamini.

Goals: Reyes 3, Henry 24, Fabregas 29, Pires 41 pen, Van Persie 84.

Rosenborg: Espen Johnsen, Winsnes (Olsen 88), Hansen, Hoftun, Stensaas, Strand (George 62), Frode Johnsen, Solli, Braaten, Helstad (Storflor 78), Brattbakk. Subs Not Used: Ronningen, Russell, Skjelbred, Tettey.

Booked: Espen Johnsen.

Goals: Hoftun 38.

Att: 35,421.

Ref: Stefano Farina (Italy).

Interview: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger

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