Overmars double as Gunners sign off

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The Independent Online

Two goals by Marc Overmars and another from Davor Suker at least enabled Arsenal to finish their latest failed Champions' League adventure on a winning note in Stockholm last night.

Two goals by Marc Overmars and another from Davor Suker at least enabled Arsenal to finish their latest failed Champions' League adventure on a winning note in Stockholm last night.

The Dutchman struck in the 16th minute and then added a second after 52 minutes to regain the lead for the Gunners following an equaliser in the closing stages of the first half by AIK Solna's Andreas Andersson. The former Newcastle striker hit a second for the Swedes 18 minutes from time, but Suker had already ensured Arsenal finished the campaign with an unbeaten away record.

Arsÿne Wenger, the Arsenal manager, had insisted it was an "important" match to win despite the fact that neither side could qualify for the second round, yet his actions displayed his true feelings. He fielded a team without Tony Adams, Martin Keown, David Seaman, Dennis Bergkamp and the injured Ray Parlour.

AIK Solna's fans were certainly taking it seriously. Their home attendances rarely top 14,000 for domestic fixtures, but there was a full house of more than twice that figure at the Rasunda Stadium last night, hoping to witness the Swedish side's first victory in the Champions' League.

Fewer than 500 were from north London but they were first to raise a cheer when Fredrik Ljungberg timed his forward pass perfectly to Emmanuel Petit and the Frenchman's cross from the right found Overmars unmarked in the middle. The Dutchman then calmly fired past Mattias Asper from 10 yards.

Solna raised the tempo and started to trouble the Arsenal centre-back pairing of Matthew Upson and Oleg Luzhny. After 27 minutes, Ola Andersson was judged onside running on to a long through ball but Alex Manninger sprang from his line to make the block with his legs. The same player had another good opportunity when Andreas Andersson laid the ball to him at the edge of the area but his shot flew wide.

The Swedes then earned the goal their powerful running deserved when Andreas Andersson slotted the equaliser. Patrick Vieira lost possession in the Solna half and Daniel Tjernstrom wasted no time hitting a long ball in behind the Gunners' back four. Andersson burst through and rounded Manninger before firing home.

Arsenal were under the cosh at the start of the second half and had to stoically defend a series of free-kicks just outside the area, but then turned the game with two goals in four minutes. Nwankwo Kanu set up both, taking Petit's pass and slipping the ball through on the left side of the area for Overmars to score his second goal. The Dutch international should have completed a hat-trick just 40 seconds later but drove his shot across the face of goal. Kanu then pulled away down the right flank and crossed low for Suker to convert.

Solna played their way back into the match, though, after 68 minutes when Tjernstrom's diagonal ball put Andersson in behind Dixon to poke the ball past Manninger.

AIK Solna (4-4-2): Asper (Baxter, 72); Nordin, Kaamark, Corneliusson (Aslund, 72), O Andersson; Lagerlof, Gustafsson, Kjolo, Tjernstrom; Novakovic, A Andersson. Substitutes not used: Mattiasson, Hoch, Johansson, Ishizaki.

Arsenal (4-4-2): Manninger; Dixon, Luzhny (Vivas, 78), Upson, Winterburn; Ljungberg, Vieira, Petit (Malz, 78), Overmars; Kanu, Suker (Hughes, 78). Substitutes not used: Seaman (gk), Vernazza, Black, Cole.

Referee: H Strampe (Germany).

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