Football: Three Gunner salute for Baseball Ground

Derby County 1 Arsenal 3

Arsenal, playing for nearly 80 minutes with 10 men following Tony Adams's dismissal for two cases of ungentlemanly conduct, dashed Derby's hopes of leaving their home of 102 years on a high note by coming from behind to win with ease.

When the Arsenal captain was banished, minutes after Ashley Ward had opened the scoring, the circumstances looked propitious for Derby to end their tenure at the Baseball Ground with a victory. But, as they proved the last time Adams was sent off, at Newcastle, playing with a man short is no impediment to Arsene Wenger's side.

While the points earned by two goals from Ian Wright and another by Dennis Bergkamp were not enough to take Arsenal into the European Champions' League, there was much for Wenger to savour at the end of his first Premiership campaign. In particular, the audacity and skill of his fellow Frenchman, the substitute Nicolas Anelka, augurs well for next season.

But if the afternoon ended with the 18-year-old Anelka providing an enticing glimpse of Highbury's future, the earlier part of the day had been devoted to Derby's past.

Brian Clough was not well enough to accept an invitation to be guest of honour at the stadium to which he brought the championship a quarter of a century ago, but there were enough nostalgic names to put a capacity crowd in celebratory mood.

Dave Mackay, who led Derby to a second title in 1975 after Clough's controversial departure, received rapturous applause before the game. Charlie George, back at the scene of his hat-trick against Real Madrid, was affectionately acclaimed by both sets of fans. All that was missing, it seemed, was one of those swamps that used to pass for a pitch at the Baseball Ground.

The weather tried to oblige. As rain swept over the ground, puddles formed on the bone-hard surface. Derby, playing with freedom after edging into mid-table, were undeterred and seized the lead after just seven minutes.

Aljosa Asanovic's deep cross was met by the head of Ward, whose first effort struck an upright. When the ball rebounded to him, a second thrust of the forehead notched up his 12th goal of the season.

Within 60 seconds, Adams was cautioned after scything down Asanovic on the halfway line. Three minutes later, when Adams perpetrated a similarly crude challenge on Darryl Powell, in an identical position on the opposite flank, Mr Durkin had no choice other than to issue a second yellow card. Adams was already sprinting towards the tunnel by the time the referee found the red.

Without his aerial presence, Ward had three opportunities to add to Derby's lead. He sent the first wastefully wide; the second bobbled against the post; and the third was athletically touched behind by David Seaman.

They were to be costly misses. Paul McGrath, that most regal and ramshackle of Rams, was nutmegged by Wright in the final minutes of his farewell appearance for Derby. Mart Poom saved the shot which followed, but it delayed the equaliser by only two minutes. When the Estonian failed to hold a shot by the increasingly confident Anelka, Wright stole in to guide the ball home.

An exquisite back-heel pass by the precocious Frenchman soon gave Wright a chance to put Arsenal ahead, but Poom held firm. However, he was helplessly beaten with nine minutes remaining. A shot by Ray Parlour broke off the defender to Bergkamp, whose chip sailed over the keeper from 18 yards.

Deep in stoppage time, Wright turned in Anelka's low cross for his 30th goal of the season. It was all rather anti-climactic for Derby, whose supporters must have watched the post-match pyrotechnics in the knowledge that Arsenal had provided the real fireworks on the great old ground's last day.

Goals: Ward (7) 1-0; Wright (55) 1-1; Bergkamp (81) 1-2; Wright (90) 1-3.

Derby County (3-5-2): Poom; McGrath (Carsley, 56), Dailly, Laursen; Rowett, Van der Laan; Asanovic, D Powell (Trollope, h-t), C Powell; Willems (Simpson, 76), Ward. Substitutes not used: Yates, Hoult (gk).

Arsenal (3-5-2): Seaman; Keown, Adams, Bould; Dixon, Merson (Anelka, 7), Vieira (Parlour, 76), Platt, Winterburn; Bergkamp, Wright. Substitutes not used: Marshall, Hughes, Lukic (gk).

Referee: P Durkin (Poole, Dorset). Booking: Arsenal: Adams. Sending-off: Adams.

Man of the match: Anelka. Attendance: 18,287.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: AV Installation Engineer

£27000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to business growth, this is...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Care Support Workers

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion, this care company base...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£21000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent