European Football: Inspired Arsenal catch fire to raze Standard

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Standard Liege. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

Arsenal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7

(Arsenal win 10-0 on aggregate)

LIKE Alex Ferguson, George Graham left an international striker out of his team, but to spectacularly different effect. In the absence of Ian Wright, Arsenal won their European Cup-Winners' Cup second- round, second-leg tie against Standard Liege 7-0.

It was their record victory in European competition and a performance that Graham hailed as 'probably the best in my time at the club'.

After Arsenal's 3-0 first-leg win, the Standard coach, Arie Haan, was sacked. One can but guess at the fate that awaits his replacement, Rene Vandereycken, who presided over a defeat that nudged the aggregate deficit into double figures.

Graham has no such worries. He admitted it was a gamble to exclude Wright, who needed just one booking to earn European suspension, but was ecstatic at the outcome. 'It was a breathtaking performance, especially by the three lads up front. Every time we went forward it looked like we would score.

'If it had gone wrong and we had lost 4-0 no doubt I would have been crucified for leaving Ian (Wright) out but there was never much danger of that, was there?'

Alan Smith set the Gunners on their way - and Graham's mind at rest - after just 122 seconds. Paul Merson crossed and Smith converted perfectly, having lost his marker.

Ian Selley drove his first goal for the club 18 minutes later and two goals from Tony Adams and Kevin Campbell confirmed their invincibility before half-time.

Paul Davis's corner in the 37th minute was met by a powerful Campbell header. Jacques Munaron parried, but could not deal with Adams's follow- up. Campbell himself claimed the acclaim four minutes later after Liege failed to deal with a free-kick by David Seaman.

The introduction of Eddie McGoldrick at half-time provided a fresh fillip. He scored the goal of the match nine minutes from the end, finishing off a fine solo run with a shot that found the net off the crossbar to make the score 7-0. After 71 minutes he had put through Merson - who claimed afterwards that Arsenal's play 'was cosmic stuff' - to slot home from 10 yards. Eight minutes later Campbell was the recipient of McGoldrick's largesse, sprinting in to poke the ball beyond Munaron.

Standard Liege: Munaron; Genaux, Leonard, Soudan, Cruz, Pister, Hellers, Asselman, Goossens, Van Rooy, Wilmots.

Arsenal: Seaman; Dixon, Winterburn, Davis, Keown (Bould, 82), Adams, Jensen, Selley, Smith (McGoldrick, 45), Merson, Campbell.

Referee: K Natri (Fin).