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Belkevich breaks Arsenal hearts

Published: Tuesday 21 October 2003, 22.04CET
FC Dynamo Kyiv 2-1 Arsenal FC Valentin Belkevich's winner leaves Dynamo in a strong position.
Published: Tuesday 21 October 2003, 22.04CET

Belkevich breaks Arsenal hearts

FC Dynamo Kyiv 2-1 Arsenal FC Valentin Belkevich's winner leaves Dynamo in a strong position.

FC Dynamo Kyiv moved joint top of Group B after they held on to beat Arsenal FC 2-1 following a frantic finale at the Olimpiyskiy Stadium.

Miserable run
The result means that Arsenal's miserable run in Europe continues: they have now gone five games without a win in the former Soviet Union and, of more concern, eight games since their last victory in this competition. Until Thierry Henry’s late consolation, they were the only team still in the UEFA Champions League yet to score.

Moment of madness
The London side are three points adrift at the bottom of Group B. Their European fortunes were summed up by the crucial second goal from Valentin Belkevich which came after a moment of madness from goalkeeper Jens Lehmann.

Belkevich winner
There looked to be no danger when the German rushed out of his area to block a Kyiv through-ball. But his clearance went straight to the opposition and put him back under pressure. As Oleg Gusev challenged with Lehmann for the return pass, the ball broke to Belkevich who rolled it into an empty net from 30 metres out.

Right-sided danger
Dynamo's most incisive forward play had originated down the right flank, where Belarussian midfield player Belkevich was impressive. He frequently left Robert Pires chasing him as he burst towards an isolated Ashley Cole.

Pires goes close
It could have been a different story for Pires if his header from an early Henry corner had been centimetres lower. The Frenchman winced in frustration as the ball struck the crossbar. Just before the break, Edu had a free header but directed the ball into the ground which made it comfortable for Oleksandr Shovkovskiy to save.

Shatskikh threatens
Despite that, Dynamo had the better of the first period, crafting two excellent opportunities before the opening goal. Lehmann had dived sharply to his right to keep out a low Maksim Shatskikh drive after ten minutes and soon after, was relieved to see the same player’s overhead effort go wide.

Opening goal
Dynamo eventually broke the deadlock after 26 minutes, when Arsenal's midfield duo Gilberto and Edu both stood off Jerko Leko as he burst through on goal. The Croatian's shot cannoned off the heel of Shatskikh and against Kolo Touré to allow the Uzbekistan striker time to volley home from 14 metres.

Parlour driving force
Dynamo defended deeper in the second half and almost paid for it when a neat step-over from Sylvain Wiltord left Cole in space on the edge of the area. However, the England international defender slipped as he shot and sliced the ball wide. Spurred on by Ray Parlour, the only player from the Arsenal lineup that lost to the same opposition when they last played five years ago, the visitors kept pushing forward.

Vieira introduced
Pires was next to go close when he toed the ball just wide of the goal after jinking round two defenders. Patrick Vieira came off the bench after that but just when the visitors looked like clawing their way back into the game, Lehmann stormed out of his area and lost his cool.

Henry scores again
The late introductions of substitutes Fredrik Ljungberg and Nwankwo Kanu helped Arsenal drag themselves back into the game. After 78 minutes, Kanu cut the ball back to Pires, whose cross was side-footed home from close range by Henry, the only Arsenal player to score away from home in the last 12 months in Europe.

Late drama
In the dying minutes, Lehmann came up for corners as Arsenal looked to sneak a draw, and they came so close. After a long-range snapshot from Wiltord, Shovkovskiy did well to stop a point-blank Kanu effort. And then came the cruellest moment: Touré shot against the crossbar with one minute left to play. It was destined to be Dynamo's night.

Last updated: 21/10/03 23.42CET

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