Arsenal 1-0 FC Dynamo Kyiv
UEFA Champions League - November 5, 2003
Ashley Cole 88 (Arsenal) 

An 88th-minute diving header from Ashley Cole salvaged Arsenal's Champions League hopes at Highbury on Wednesday night.

Arsène Wenger's side had enjoyed huge advantage in territory and possession all evening but it seemed the European frustration was set to continue against a resolute FC Dynamo Kyiv side.

The manager had already thrown caution to the wind - and both his substitute strikers on - when the winner came. Sylvain Wiltord crossed from the right. The ball flicked off the head of Goran Gavrancic and fell nicely for the left back, who had sneaked up from defence, to plant his header home.

How Highbury celebrated. Fireworks had crackled overhead all night. Despite Arsenal's efforts, they were never matched on the pitch but who cares? King Cole's goal has given Arsenal a foot-hold in Group B.

Wenger's men now have four points and the gap has closed on Moscow (5pts), Kyiv (6pts) and Inter (7pts). And we are going to the San Siro in the next round of matches.

On the eve of this game, Wenger said Patrick Vieira's thigh injury would rule him out until December. With Martin Keown (calf) still out, it was no surprise then that the manager started with the side that beat Leeds so handsomely at the weekend.

Henry, who was only denied a hat-trick at Elland Road by Ray Parlour's backside, had the first sight of goal. After the scampering Freddie Ljungberg had been fouled on the edge of the area, he fired the free-kick just over the bar.

Seconds later Kyiv reminded the home fans of the quality that had brought them that crucial 2-1 win in Ukraine two weeks ago. And the move included the two architects of that victory. Playmaker Valentin Belkevich fed striker Maklism Shahkitch inside the six-yard box and only a trademark Sol Campbell challenge saved a certain goal.

Seconds later the tip-toes of Kyiv keeper Oleksander Shovkovskyi did likewise at the other end. Robert Pires broke down the left and Ljungberg's touch fooled the Ukraine No 1 who was coming out to intercept. He flicked out a foot to divert the danger.

Already it was shaping up like the away game - fast, frantic and open. Both sides were working their way into to midfield positions and then attempting to cut through the opposing defence with a clever passes or strokes of individual skill.

Kyiv's central midfielder Denys Onyshchenko limped off midway through the half. Seconds later Arsenal's own "Denys" - Bergkamp that is - supplied the free-kick that saw Gilberto rise above the head to nod goalwards. Had his effort not been straight at the keeper it was 1-0.

Arsenal were now on top and this time only the fingertips of Shovkovskyi stopped Pires firing high into the net from an acute angle. Then, on the half-hour, Kolo Toure strode forward and slid a long pass into Henry's feet. The striker swivelled on the penalty spot and fired just high.

Henry and Ljungberg were sparkling. The former's low, cross-field pass set up the latter for a race to the ball with keeper. Shovkovskyi won.

But Ljungberg took the honours in the next battle. Nodding over the advancing keeper from a corner only to see the ball hacked off the line.

Pires was doing his bit too. He illustrated the fact by sidefooting just wide of the post six minutes before the interval. Then Henry benefited from a fortunate ricochet but he blasted wildly over the bar.

At the start of the second half, Henry showed a much more mature head; cushioning a header for Bergkamp to race on to. Unfortunately the Dutchman shot straight at the keeper's legs. A minute later, Pires sent a shot fizzing across the face of goal. It looked like it was going to be all Arsenal once again with Parlour hustling the midfield into shape and Toure in swashbuckling form at the back.

It was not to be. Kyiv worked their way back into the game and nearly grabbed a goal 10 minutes after the restart. Oleh Husev worked a position on the right but his misdirected cross drew admonishment from Shatskikh. There was worse to come for Husev two minutes later. The Arsenal defence failed to clear and midfielder wasted a fine chance at the far post with home keeper Jens Lehmann still struggling to regain his ground. Unsurprisingly the culprit was substituted two minutes later.

However, in typical fashion for the enthralling encounter, in between those chances Arsenal had their best chance to go ahead. Henry raced through and enticed the keeper to follow him to the right-hand byline. The Frenchman the whipped in a cross to the far post but the loosely-marked Pires could only scuff his header wide.

Arsenal were now pushing forward - they had no choice. Shatskikh nearly profited by producing a shot on the turn so with 22 minutes left Wenger introduced fresh legs and fresh ideas - Wiltord for Ljungberg. Kanu for Parlour followed seven minutes later.

The changes did not bring a change of luck. The next clear chance came with four minutes left when Bergkamp's long-range effort was tipped over the bar.

It seemed to be the last chance of the game but Cole conjured up a winner in the nick of time.


Arsenal Lehmann, Lauren, Toure, Campbell, Ashley Cole, Ljungberg (Wiltord 69), Parlour (Kanu 75), Gilberto, Pires, Bergkamp (Edu 89), Henry. Subs not used Stack, Cygan, Clichy, Aliadiere.

FC Dynamo Kyiv Shovkovskiy, Fedorov, Jerko, Leko, Nesmachniy, Gavrancic, Ghioane, Shatskikh (Nanni 71), Belkevich, Peev, Onischenko (Sablic 21), Husev (Rincon 60). Subs not used Alessandro, Melaschenko, El Kaddouri, Reva.

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24 Nov 2008