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Pires puts Arsenal in pole position

Published: Thursday 25 March 2004, 0.50CET
Chelsea FC 1-1 Arsenal FC Robert Pires cancels out Eidur Gudjohnsen's opening goal for Chelsea.

Match statistics


Goals scored1
Attempts on target5
Attempts off target4
Fouls committed20
Yellow cards3
Red cards1


Published: Thursday 25 March 2004, 0.50CET

Pires puts Arsenal in pole position

Chelsea FC 1-1 Arsenal FC Robert Pires cancels out Eidur Gudjohnsen's opening goal for Chelsea.

By Trevor Haylett at Stamford Bridge

Arsenal FC's run of five successive victories in the UEFA Champions League came to an end at Stamford Bridge but they will be the happier with a 1-1 scoreline against Chelsea FC which puts them in control of this quarter-final tie.

Desailly dismissed
The all-London confrontation edged Chelsea's way when Eidur Gudjohnsen scored a fine goal early in the second half. But Arsenal's renowned fighting spirit saw them equalise six minutes later through Robert Pires and it is they who will be fancied to go through to their first-ever semi-final. A further blow to Chelsea came seven minutes from time when captain Marcel Desailly was sent off following two yellow cards in quick succession.

Chelsea changes
Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri made three changes to the team which defeated Fulham FC at the weekend. Claude Makelele, Adrian Mutu and Scott Parker all came in at the expense of Geremi, Joe Cole and Hernán Crespo. Arsenal's only change was to restore Fredrik Ljungberg in place of Gilberto.

Desire aplenty
Arsenal were looking for their fourth victory against their London rivals this season and showed plenty of desire to push forward early on. They had scored twice in each of those domestic meetings and saw no reason to be in inhibited by Chelsea's penchant for clean sheets: five in succession in this competition.

Rigorous contest
Marco Ambrosio, continuing to deputise for the injured Carlo Cudicini, was involved for the first time when Dennis Bergkamp tried to curl a shot past him. In the main, however, flowing moves were the exception, so rigorously was every area of the pitch being contested. A Mutu free-kick proved no more than catching practice for Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann, but at the other end a high, hanging set-piece from Bergkamp offered Sol Campbell a heading opportunity, which he squandered.

Parker artistry
Arsenal always looked capable of breaking through but gradually Chelsea succeeded in pushing them back and began to look the more likely to score. Parker's craft twice set up dangerous raids. From the first he could do no more than knock a low cross into Lehmann's arms, with the second he enabled William Gallas to cross and although Gudjohnsen made a good connection on the volley, there was Lauren with the important block.

Lampard unlucky
Chelsea began the second half with renewed purpose and Lampard was unlucky when his volley deflected off Campbell's head and skidded wide with Lehmann wrong-footed. Arsenal responded as Henry cut in dangerously from the left but Ambrosio held the Frenchman's shot.

Difficult angle
Then, in the 53rd minute, Chelsea took the lead with a fine piece of opportunism from Gudjohnsen. Lampard's long ball down the left was followed by a momentary hesitation in the away rearguard but Lehmann nevertheless looked to have won the race for the loose ball. However, in the nick of time, Gudjohnsen charged down his clearance and from a difficult angle turned to squeeze the ball into the empty net.

Rampant Chelsea
Chelsea were suddenly rampant. Parker fed Gudjohsen in space but Kolo Touré blocked the low cross. Soon after Lampard fired one in, which Lehmann saved, and was then also on hand to deal with Gudjohnsen's follow-up.

Pires parity
Chelsea could have been two up; instead Arsenal went to the other end and grabbed an equaliser from one of their trademark counterattacks. The ball was played out wide to Ashley Cole and when he lofted it over, there was Pires timing his leap ahead of John Terry to wonderfully head the visitors back on level terms.

Last updated: 25/03/04 10.57CET