An 87th minute goal from Arturo Lupoli gave Arsenal an unlikely victory over Ajax on Friday night.
The Club's last three games at the Amsterdam ArenA - two in this tournament last season and one in the Champions League - had ended goalless and, despite numerous chances for either side, this seemed set to be going the same way.
- Lauren 60
- Cole 71
- Senderos 45
- Ljungberg 71
- Reyes 78
- Bergkamp 60
- Cygan 45
- Eboue 60
- Hoyte 71
- Hleb 60
- Bentley 71
- Lupoli 78 Goal!
However Lupoli, who averaged a goal-per-game in youth, reserves and first-team last season, settled the game just nine minutes after coming off the bench.
In fact it was a goal fashioned by substitutes. David Bentley found Alexander Hleb on the edge of the area and the Belarussian bought himself some time before feeding Lupoli who fired home left-footed.
Thierry Henry nearly added another seconds later and Angelos Charisteas thumped the post for Ajax at the death but one goal was enough.
Arsenal wore their new yellow away kit for the first time tonight in the sweltering conditions of the Amsterdam ArenA. It is said to be the Club's lucky colour after the FA Cup victories of 1971 and 1979 plus the heroics of Anfield on May 26, 1989.
However this new shirt was nearly christened in the worst possible way in the opening seconds when slack defending allowed Wesley Sneijder to race through. He opened his body and steered the ball past Jens Lehmann. Fortunately for Arsenal it drifted past the far post aswell.
Within a couple of minutes the visitors had spurned an equally good chance when a cute clip though from Jose Antonio Reyes sent Ljungberg clear in the area. He slid his shot wide.
Last year's game between these two sides had been a stale goalless draw. This turned out to be nothing like that. Tomas Galasek fizzed a shot just over then Bergkamp's through ball sent Ljungberg clear on the right of the area. He did the hard part by weaving past Hedwinges Maduro and Galasek then scooped his shot over the bar when one-on-one with the keeper.
Midway through the half, Stephen Pienaar chipped a ball into the area from the right flank and Senderos could only nod on to Nigel De Jong who sidefooted across the face of goal. It was a good chance but, again, Arsenal trumped it a few minutes later.
Reyes' rifled a cross to the near post, Henry's first touch sent Cole clear on the corner of the six-yard box. Keeper Maarten Stekelenburg rushed out but the full back got his shot away. Unfortunately the angle was too tight.
It had been an even game until then but Ajax had the final chance of the half when Markus Rosenberg drove over after indecision in the backline.
Arsenal redressed the balance at the star of the second period. In the 47th minute, a corner found Bergkamp on the edge of the area. His clip fell to Flamini and the far post, who square to team-mates when he should have shot and the chance went begging.
Then, just before the hour, Henry's cross from the left was fed into the path of Bergkamp who buried his long-range drive into the keeper's chest.
It was the Dutchman's final contribution; he was substituted for Hleb soon afterwards to a huge ovation. Obviously they still love him here in Amsterdam.
The home side upped their game in the final stages and started flashing crosses into Jens Lehmann's area. Some went wide, some he collected - such as the superb mid-air snatch from Charisteas in the 65th minute. It was reminiscent of the nickname he had in Germany - the flycatcher.
The game seemed set to open up. Reyes sent Ljungberg clear but the Stekelenburg rushed out his area too hack the ball away. It returned to feet of the Spaniard who attempted to lob the ball into the unguarded net. His effort drifted wide.
However a rash of substitutions took the edge off the game as the seconds ticked away. Lupoli's strike changed that. Henry flicked a shot over and Charisteas rattled the wood work.
But Arsenal's reserve team poacher had stolen the game.Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 30 Jul 2005