By Myles Palmer
Arsenal 1 Spartak Moscow 0
During the day I had lowered my prediction to 1-0 and at half-time I thought it might be 1-0. But I was worried that it would be 0-0 because there was no final ball.
The game started at 150 mph, exactly as I had expected.
There were two great moments in the first half.
A superb interception from Lauren.
And a megapasss by Vieira to Ashley Cole, who exploded forward to the byeline like Roberto Carlos and then overhit his cross like Roberto Carlos.
Bergkamp played his best game of the season : fast, fluid, focused, aggressively contructive.
As I thought a few months ago, DB10 still has a lot to offer.
He will be missed in Munich next Wednesday, which I’m told is a 5.45 kick-off on ITV
If Henry had been playing as effectively as Bergkamp it would have been 3-0 by half time. But Thierry fussed and flickered and messed about, refusing to make a run for Ljungberg early on,wanting it to feet in that annoying way of his.
Freddie pointed out firmly where the big star should have run to !
Vieira missed a couple of headers and Henry missed the best chance of the first half and the best of the second half as well.
Spartak defended too intelligently and tenaciously to be outsmarted in open play so the goal had to come from a set-piece.
Henry headed in a Cole corner after 82 minutes.
Wenger was chuffed and said it was the fastest Champions League game he had ever seen.
Arsenal generated constant pressure and won 17 corners and Wenger said they deserved something from one of the corners.
After 71 minutes he took Bergkamp and Pires off and put Kanu and Wiltord on.
He was asked if he had been thinking of taking Henry off and he said, “I don’t have to answer that.”
Romanstsev had the hump and said his team were awful. He said Titov asked to be substituted but he did not know if he was injured or not!
As the second half went on it began to remind everyone of past agonies – Lens,Kiev,Barcelona,Fiorentina,Bayern, Lyon.
It sometimes seems like pure hell following Arsenal as disappointment follows disappointment and it is so nerve-wracking and exhausting that you eventually say : I’m sick of not qualifying, I’m sick of being always one goal away from satisfaction. It wears you down.
Then Henry jumped and nutted the ball into the net and that changed everything.
If Arsenal do what Lyon do they go through.
And if Lyon draw in Moscow and Arsenal lose in Munich, Arsenal still go through because both teams will be on eight points and then results against each other are what count.
Romantsev promised to field his strongest team against Lyon next week.
March 6th 2001
PS Lyon 3 Bayern 0 is a scoreline which only confirms what I said about the Germans on December 5th : an over-rated team who dived their way to a draw at Highbury.