Arsenal FC 2-0 BV Borussia Dortmund
Fredrik Ljungberg capped his return from injury with Arsenal FC's second of the evening as the London club kicked off their UEFA Champions League campaign with a comfortable 2-0 Group A win against BV Borussia Dortmund at Highbury.
In the battle of the German and English champions, Arsenal were forced to wait patiently before Dennis Bergkamp broke the deadlock on 62 minutes, but once in front they were rarely troubled by a Dortmund side lacking a cutting edge.
Ljungberg had not played for Arsenal since lifting the Premiership trophy at Old Trafford last May, but he picked up where he had left off with another tireless display and fully deserved to leave his mark on the game with a goal, which will rank amongst the easiest he has ever scored.
Seaman the architect
Goalkeeper David Seaman was the architect of the piece, picking out the effervescent Sylvain Wiltord with an astute throw after collecting a Dortmund corner. Wiltord broke into the Dortmund half before sliding the ball to Thierry Henry, who touched it into the path of the on-rushing Ljungberg, taking Dortmund goalkeeper Jens Lehmann out of the play in the process. Ljungberg collected the pass and touched home in a move that took just 13 seconds from the moment Seaman had collected the ball.
It was Arsenal’s most incisive moment of the match, but for an hour it appeared that Matthias Sammer’s side, so used to playing away in Europe after their run to the final of the UEFA Cup last season, might have held on for a point. Arsenal kicked off in confident mood with Bergkamp, Henry and Wiltord combining well with a series of slick passing moves in midfield. But despite their possession, the home side struggled to create many clear chances and Dortmund grew in confidence as the half progressed.
Without injured playmaker Tomáš Rosický, however, Dortmund lacked a creative spark and Sol Campbell and Martin Keown were rarely troubled in the heart of the Arsenal defence. Ironically, the more Dortmund came into the game, the more dangerous Arsenal became, with the pace of Henry exposing the German side's rearguard.
Having reached the interval unscathed, Dortmund, marshalled by the impressive Christoph Metzelder in the centre of defence, slowed the pace still further after the restart. But just as the German champions appeared to have taken the sting out of the home side, Arsenal struck.
From a quick throw on the right, Wiltord and Henry exchanged passes before the latter slipped the ball through to Bergkamp on the edge of the box. The Dutchman, using Ljunberg as a screen, chipped the ball off the leg of the unfortunate Metzelder and beyond Lehmann in the Dortmund goal. Dortmund pushed forward but Arsenal struck again soon after to signal their intent.