By Tony Attwood
It was called “One of Arsenal’s most mature performances” producing what was said to be “one of the greatest results in their history.” As a result of it Arsenal knew that they would qualify for the group stages of the Champions League if they beat Lokomotiv Moscow at Highbury in the next game.
The date was 25 November 2003, the result was Inter 1 Arsenal 5 and indeed Arsenal not only qualified but won the group phase by two points. But it was tight: Arsenal ended with 10 points, Lokomotiv Mowcow with 8, Inter with 8 and Dynamo Kyiv 7 points.
The match is well remembered for its score, but it should also be noted that Arsenal were lacking several players for the game. Players now regarded as “make-weight” like Cygan were there, and played a central part in the game. And additionally we had Thierry Henry who at this time was in his pomp.
For the journalists with Arsenal having lost the opening group game 0-3 to Inter at home nerves were the dominant issue of the day. But Thierry was not doing with that. He scored the first and laid on the second, before running, on 85 minutes, from the halfway line to beat Javier Zanetti twice on the way to getting his third.
Henry assisted as he set up Edu before Robert Pires and Jérémie Aliadière (on as a su)b really did it for the holders of the Champions League trophy.
Inter did in fact draw level after the first Arsenal goal through Christian Vieri – and they must have thought at that moment that they could come good given that the centre of the Arsenal defence was being organised by … Pascal Cygan, and in goal we had the oft criticised Jen Lehmann. But both played superbly, as of course did Sol Campbell – all the more necessary given that we did not have Vieira playing.
25 mins: Henry’s side-footer gives Arsenal the lead
33 mins: Inter equalise after Vieri’s shot is deflected past Lehmann
49 mins: Ljungberg puts Arsenal back in front from Henry’s cross
81 mins: Henry’s solo special gives them a two-goal cushion
87 mins: Arsenal pile forward and Edu slots home the fourth
89 mins: Pires wraps things up by slotting in the fifth
Arsenal: Lehmann, Cole, Campbell, Toure, Cygan, Ljungberg, Parlour, Edu, Pires, Kanu (Silva 73), Henry (Aliadiere 89).
Subs not used: Stack, Keown, Clichy, Papadopulos, Hoyte.
Booked: Cygan, Edu.
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