Arsenal FC went level on points with Group D leaders RC Deportivo La Coruña in the UEFA Champions League after they beat Bayer 04 Leverkusen 4-1 at Highbury on Wednesday.
Arsène Wenger's side raced into a two-goal lead within the first ten minutes through two of their French internationals - Robert Pires and Thierry Henry. Soon after the restart another of Wenger's quintet of Frenchmen - Patrick Vieira - scored with a header. Dennis Bergkamp capped an impressive Arsenal performance with a wonderful chip seven minutes from time. On a miserable evening for the German side, Zoltán Sebescen grabbed a consolation goal for Leverkusen with a rifled shot that zipped past David Seaman.
Leverkusen had come to Highbury promising to attack in an effort to exploit the absence of some of Arsenal's key defenders. It was an attacking promise that failed to materialise even though the Germans had twice as much possession as the home side.
Wenger's side scored with their almost their first attack of the game. Pires received the ball from Vieira after the midfielder dispossessed Lucio with a sliding tackle and sped away, before cutting inside Jens Nowotny and curling his shot inside Hans-Jörg Butt's left-hand post. Soon after Arsenal doubled their advantage with another devastating counter-attack. Vieira again set the move in motion, quickly feeding Bergkamp, who in turn passed the ball to Sylvain Wiltord on the right. Wiltord laid off his pass immediately to Henry, who slotted the ball home for his 28th goal of the season.
The closest Leverkusen came to a goal in the opening half was when Igors Stepanovs had to dive in front of Ulf Kirsten as the German striker tried to reach Oliver Neuville's pass. In an effort to rescue the game, Leverkusen coach Klaus Toppmöller brought on Yildiray Bastürk and Dimitar Berbatov at the start of the second period, but his tactical readjustment was made almost redundant by Vieira's headed goal in the 48th minute.
Bastürk did bring some vim to the Leverkusen attack but the German side were unable to force David Seaman to make a save until just past the hour when the England goalkeeper foiled first Zé Roberto and then Neuville in quick succession. Bergkamp added a fourth with the most delightful of chips in the 83rd minute, before Sebescen replied for Leverkusen with a stunning shot from an acute angle.
There was one piece of bad news to emerge from Highbury on Wednesday. Wenger will have to do without Giovanni van Bronckhorst until December after the midfielder was diagnosed with a ruptured cruciate ligament.
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