By Trevor Haylett at Highbury
Another imperious UEFA Champions League display from Thierry Henry - though this time as a creator rather than a goalscorer - helped Arsenal FC defeat FC Lokomotiv Moskva and clinch their qualifying place as winners of Group B.
It was Arsenal's third successive victory and sealed a magnificent recovery after taking just one point from their first three fixtures. Henry laid on goals in each half for Robert Pires and Fredrik Ljungberg, but Lokomotiv joined their hosts in the last 16 after a late FC Dynamo Kyiv equaliser against Internazionale FC saved the Russian side from elimination.
The home crowd were delighted to find the name of Henry on the teamsheet after his recent knee problem. Captain Patrick Vieira also returned after a thigh injury. Lokomotiv were unchanged from their 3-2 victory against Dynamo on Matchday 5, which meant that Winston Parks, whose late winner against in that game took them to the top of the section, was once again on the bench. Mikheil Ashvetia was deployed as a lone front-runner, with only a draw needed by the visitors.
Arsenal in control
Henry's free-kick barely 90 seconds into the contest provided an early touch for visiting goalkeeper Sergei Ovchinnikov, and Arsenal were soon in control, Bergkamp producing his usual high-quality performance on the big occasion. When he found Henry in the penalty area it needed the assistance of two Russian defenders to keep him out. Another bout of crisp, flowing passes then ended with the Dutchman shooting at Ovchinnikov.
Soon, though, Arsenal had the early lead they craved. Henry's determination to win a loose ball on the right created the opening and Pires took the square pass in his stride before striking a firm shot inside the goalkeeper's near post. The visitors' hopes were then briefly raised when Maksim Buznikin sent over a low cross which ran through to Dmitri Khokhlov. Under pressure, however, he could do no more than prod a difficult chance wide.
A penetrating spell then followed for Arsenal in which Henry adeptly took control of Bergkamp's backward header. His attempt curled fractionally wide of the upright. Then Ljungberg lifted his shot over after Kolo Touré had made impressive strides down the right. Moments before half-time, Lokomotiv were down to ten men. Jacob Lekcetho had already been booked for a foul on Ljungberg, and a repeat saw a second yellow card issued.
The visitors adjusted for the second half by bringing on Sergei Gurenko to play at left-back while Parks replaced Ashvetia. However, Touré soon warmed Ovchinnikov's palms with a brute of a drive from an angle.
Arsenal were totally dominant, though, as Pires came close, Ljungberg demanded a stretching save and Bergkamp's header following an Ashley Cole centre drifted wide. Then, finally, Vieira won possession and Henry's delightful touch over his own shoulder was read by Ljungberg who lifted the ball over Ovchinnikov to score.
Chances were few and far between after this as Lokomotiv heard first that Inter were in the lead, then that Dynamo had scored the goal that allowed them to join Arsenal in Friday's draw for the last 16.