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Henry double ends Celta dreams

Published: Thursday 11 March 2004, 0.30CET
Arsenal FC 2-0 RC Celta de Vigo (agg: 5-2) Arsenal hit imperious form to stroll into the quarter-finals.
Published: Thursday 11 March 2004, 0.30CET

Henry double ends Celta dreams

Arsenal FC 2-0 RC Celta de Vigo (agg: 5-2) Arsenal hit imperious form to stroll into the quarter-finals.

By Trevor Haylett at Highbury

Arsenal FC moved with easy assurance into the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals by extending their first knockout round tie advantage over tournament debutants RC Celta de Vigo to three goals at Highbury. In scoring twice, Thierry Henry overtook Jean-Pierre Papin as France's record all-time scorer in European club football with 39 goals.

Home dominance
It is only the second time Arsenal have reached the last eight and they justified their position as some bookmakers' favourites to win the competition with a dominant display. Celta's misery was complete when substitute Pablo Contreras was sent off late on for a second yellow card.

Cavallero returns
Pablo Cavallero was restored to the Celta goal despite breaking his nose in the first leg, his team having let in nine goals in two matches without him perhaps a factor. While Arsène Wenger restored both Dennis Bergkamp and Ashley Cole to Arsenal's lineup after injury, Radomir Antic had not been expected to leave Edu, one of his goalscorers in the Balaídos encounter, on the bench. Arsenal's own Edu, who scored twice a fortnight ago, did start.

Celta chances
The home side began with confidence, Bergkamp showing the benefit of his recent inactivity, but it was Celta who claimed the first shot on goal, Peter Luccin letting fly. They forced two corners in quick succession and Mauricio Pinilla followed a strong burst of pace with a drive that looped off Sol Campbell for another flag kick. However, Arsenal soon forced two corners of their own and in the 14th minute they extended their aggregate lead.

Arsenal ahead
Henry scored his 28th goal of the season, but most of the construction was down to Bergkamp. He first fired in a low cross and when that did not find its intended target he scurried to retrieve possession, toying with two or three defenders in the process. His pass then released Henry to plant a shot through the goalkeeper's legs.

Huge task
Celta now needed three goals, a huge task. They did not give up and Luccin, who before the half-hour was forced to go off along with Sylvinho, tested Jens Lehmann again. Cole might have scored from another slick Bergkamp pass but in the 34th minute Henry showed he was not about to pass up a simple opportunity after Fredrik Ljungberg's cross had been deflected to him standing on his own at the far post.

Margin clear
Lehmann endured a couple of worrying moments before the end of the half but it was becoming a stroll for the home side and the magnitude of Celta's task was made clear by their body language. Their priority now seemed to be to keep the scoreline to within respectable limits.

Hat-trick denied
The night's tally should have climbed to three when Bergkamp picked out Edu at the far post. Slightly off-balance, he could not keep his attempt on target. Then Robert Pires set up Henry for his hat-trick opportunity. On this occasion, however, Cavallero was able to get his body in the way.

Exhibition football
It was exhibition stuff in the second half as the London side took every invitation to pass the ball around and showcase their skills and cohesive understanding. When they found another gear, Pires was foiled by the goalkeeper while Bergkamp lifted his attempt too high and took a heavy blow from Cavallero in the process.

Contreras off
As the game was seen out for Arsenal's club record fifth successive victory in this competition, Contreras, booked in the first half, blocked José Antonio Reyes and was dismissed.

Last updated: 11/03/04 9.26CET

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