FOOTBALL; Shevchenko adds to pain for Arsenal

Champions' League: Dynamo Kiev 3 Arsenal 1: Wenger's depleted side overwhelmed as Manchester United unleash full force on Danes
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The Independent Online
THE TIGHTEST of the six Champions' League sections was turned on its head last night as the Kiev chickens came home to roost. Arsenal, who had begun a sodden night on top of Group E, were destined for the bottom of it long before a quarter to midnight local time, when the Ukrainian champions achieved the victory that should have been theirs at Wembley last month.

Forced to play without their two regular strikers, Arsenal missed the few chances they were able to carve out while it still mattered and could not score until the substitute, Stephen Hughes, headed in seven minutes from the end. By that time their defence, deprived of Steve Bould, the captain, before half-time, had been breached three times from set pieces, unable once more to cope with the fluid movement and skill on the ball of the outstanding attacking pair, Andriy Shevchenko and Serhiy Rebrov.

Rebrov, the scorer of an equaliser in stoppage time in the Wembley game, opened the scoring with a penalty awarded for one of Martin Keown's numerous rash challenges, and Shevchenko, for whom Milan are prepared to pay many millions, claimed the goal of the night direct from a free-kick.

Meanwhile, a 1-0 win for Panathinaikos over Lens sent the Greeks to the top of the table ahead of their visit here in the next game. Even if Arsenal win their return match at home to Lens, they could still find themselves behind Kiev going into the final round of matches. Should the two teams eventually finish level on points at the top, the English Double winners will lose out, because Dynamo have taken more points from the matches between them. Rightly so.

Arsenal's manager, Arsene Wenger, sounded more convincing when he said: "It puts Kiev in a good position because of the two-goal margin" than when he added: "I still think we have a good chance."

Not only did Arsenal have to do without Dennis Bergkamp, Marc Overmars and Tony Adams as expected, but a toe injury that they had managed to hush up kept out Bergkamp's regular partner, Nicolas Anelka, as well. So Christopher Wreh played on his own in attack in front of a midfield five.

Emmanuel Petit was restored to the side, having recovered, to nobody's great surprise, from a throat infection, but was unable to exert anything like his normal influence. He should by rights miss the next game after receiving another yellow card, but is likely to be the beneficiary from a case of mistaken identity, Uefa's report having named Nigel Winterburn as the culprit.

Bould twice went off for treatment to a cut sustained in a clash of heads and was finally forced to withdraw - most unwillingly - by a hamstring injury.

It was his partner, Keown, however, who was found wanting twice in a critical period just before the half hour, as the runners got out of their blocks and began sprinting at - and past - the red shirts.

In the 27th minute, Keown downed little Rebrov inside the area with a challenge that offered little defence against Piero Ceccarini's decision to award a penalty. David Seaman got his hand to Rebrov's kick but only to loop the ball tantalisingly into the air, not prevent it crossing the line. He ought to have been facing another penalty within two minutes of Keown's equally injudicious challenge into the back of Shevchenko. This time Signor Ceccarini ruled in Arsenal's favour.

Apart from Shevchenko lobbing wide after finding himself goal-side of Lee Dixon, little else went right for them until 10 minutes from the interval, when Petit stretched for a fine saving block on the same player.

There were, nevertheless, chances for Arsenal on either side of those incidents, that either Bergkamp or Anelka might have been fancied to take. Luis Boa Morte scuffed the first one unconvincingly at the goalkeeper and Wreh had the next saved after Dixon's cross fell nicely for him.

In the last few minutes of the half Wreh headed Petit's diagonal chip wide and, in a scramble following a similar low centre from the right by Ray Parlour, Patrick Vieira first had a shot blocked, then vainly claimed a penalty as he was challenged. But danger always seemed imminent at the other end, and two free-kicks in 12 minutes led to further goals. In the 62nd minute, Alexander Holovko headed in Oleh Luzhnyi's kick. Shevchenko needed no help from anyone for the next one, beating Seaman with a magnificent strike from almost 30 yards.

By the time Hughes headed in Petit's corner Arsenal were playing to salvage goal difference, not points.

Dynamo Kiev (3-5-2): Shovkovskyi; Holovko, Vaschuk, Dmytrulin; Luzhnyi, Husin, Kardash, Belkevich (Kalitvintsev, 89), Kossovskyi; Shevchenko, Rebrov. Substitutes not used: Gerassimenko, Mykhailenko, Makovski, Kyryukhin, Venhlinski, Kernozenko (gk).

Arsenal (4-5-1): Seaman; Dixon, Keown, Bould (Grimandi, 45), Winterburn; Vivas (Garde, 85), Parlour, Vieira, Petit, Boa Morte (Hughes, 68); Wreh. Substitutes not used: Manninger (gk), Upson, Grondin, Riza.

Referee: P Ceccarini (Italy).

More reports, results, page 28

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