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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 December 2005, 21:43 GMT
Arsenal 0-0 Ajax
Thierry Henry looks non-plussed after seeing his penalty go wide
Arsenal dropped their first points of the Champions League group stages as they played out a low-key goalless draw against Ajax on Highbury.

Thierry Henry carelessly missed a penalty in first-half injury-time after Jose Antonio Reyes was brought down.

But with both sides already qualified for the knockout stages, there was little edge to the game.

Ajax forged several decent chances of their own with Johnny Heitinga and Markus Rosenberg both going close.

With nothing at stake for either side and heavy rain falling, the atmosphere at Highbury was flat and the early action provided little for the fans to get excited about.

It was the visitors who carved out the first serious chance with a clever short-corner routine leading to a tempting cross which Heitinga could not quite get to.

The Gunners took until the 17th minute to create their first opportunity, but the nervous-looking Quincy Owusu-Abeyie was unable to connect with a Henry corner from close range.

Arsenal's midfield play became increasingly ragged. Alexander Hleb gave the ball away and Ajax released Rosenberg with a through-ball, but Manuel Almunia made a good save at the striker's feet.

The Gunners showed their class in fits and starts, but their final pass was frequently just short of the required accuracy with Sebastian Larsson's slightly over-hit through-ball to Owusu-Abeyie on 28 minutes typical.

Almunia's eccentric goalkeeping nearly cost Arsenal dear, as he slid towards the edge of the penalty area with the ball in his hands.

Just before reaching the edge of the box, Almunia chucked the ball over his shoulder back towards goal and he was very lucky no Ajax player could gather possession.

Arsenal's Quincy Owusu-Abeyie is challenged by Ajax's Zdenek Grygera
Arsenal's Quincy Owusu-Abeyie saw plenty of the ball at Highbury

Inspiration came in the unlikely shape of centre-back Philippe Senderos as he skipped past two tackles before feeding Henry.

The Frenchman passed to Owusu-Abeyie who saw his shot well saved by Maarten Stekelenburg, but Reyes sent the rebound soaring over the bar.

Henry's missed penalty summed up Arsenal's misfiring night.

In the third minute of injury-time, Reyes was brought down by Tomas Galasek - although the contact looked minimal - only for Henry to send his penalty effort inches wide of the right post.

Arsenal started the second half well, creating a half-chance for Henry within the first few seconds.

Soon after, Ajax had their own appeal turned down when Almunia dashed out to clear a long ball and took out Rosenberg in the process.

Wesley Sneijder's pass to Steven Pienaar beat the Arsenal offside trap, but Almunia produced another good save.

Neither side lacked for effort, but decent second-half chances were few and far between.

A languid pass from Henry on 70 minutes invited Owusu-Abeyie to run onto the ball, but he felt it was out of his range.

Late on, substitute Robin van Persie beat three players only to see his shot saved by the keeper's legs.

There was still time for Rosenberg to fire over from close range when Senderos' weak clearance fell at his feet.

Arsenal: Almunia, Eboue, Senderos, Toure, Lauren (Gilbert 73), Hleb (Fabregas 62), Larsson, Flamini, Reyes (Van Persie 65), Owusu-Abeyie, Henry.
Subs Not Used: Poom, Cygan, Djourou, Lupoli.

Booked: Flamini, Hleb.

Ajax: Stekelenburg, Heitinga, Grygera (Trabelsi 14), Vermaelen, Juanfran, Maduro (De Jong 29), Galasek, Sneijder, Pienaar, Rosenberg, Boukhari (Babel 80).
Subs Not Used: Lobont, Rosales, Anastasiou, Lindenbergh.

Booked: Heitinga.

Att: 35,376

Ref: Eduardo Iturralde Gonzalez (Spain).

Interview: Arsenal captain Thierry Henry


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