Vieira and Lauren off as Arsenal fight for survival

PSV Eindhoven 1 - Arsenal 1
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The Independent Online

A better night for football, but not exactly a good one, certainly not for Arsenal who were reduced to nine men after Lauren and Patrick Vieira were dismissed on a night of high drama in the Low Countries.

A better night for football, but not exactly a good one, certainly not for Arsenal who were reduced to nine men after Lauren and Patrick Vieira were dismissed on a night of high drama in the Low Countries.

There was, thankfully, no repeat of the racist chanting which disfigured this contest two years ago, and other matches elsewhere more recently, but a cigarette lighter was thrown onto the pitch at a corner landing near Thierry Henry.

Henry, who had equalised Andre Ooijer's early goal for PSV, was unworried by this but his team were distressed at the dismissals. The nine men held on for a draw and, thanks to Rosenborg achieving a similar result against Panathinaikos, will still qualify for the knock-out stages of the Champions' League if they beat the Norwegians at Highbury in a fortnight.

After surviving a late fitness test Sol Campbell had been hurried back into central defence in what proved a vain attempt to deliver Arsenal's first clean sheet in 11 matches. That modest ambition lasted just eight minutes. Gérard Sibon had already exposed Arsenal's aerial weakness, putting a header wide, before he set up Jefferson Farfan for a shot Lauren blocked at the expense of a corner. Marc van Bommel took it and Ooijer, having lost Campbell and Vieira, beat Jens Lehmann to head in at the near post. Given that PSV had not conceded in six matches, and had conceded just once in this stadium this season, in August, it seemed a heavy blow.

Henry led the response, robbing Wilfred Bouma at the byline, but he pulled his shot into the side netting. Soon Arsenal's night seemed ill-fated as the Frenchman limped to the touchline feeling his right ankle. The worried pocket of Gooners high in the stand were soon reassured as Henry levelled. He collected the ball on the right touchline beneath the away support with Bouma in attendance. Henry slipped but recovered to drive past the Dutch international and into the box. He then played a sweet one-two with Fredrik Ljungberg, the latter back-heeling the ball for Henry to stroke his 15th goal of the season.

The equaliser raised the temperature of a cold night with the missile incident following cautions for Vieira and Ooijer. Van Bommel was fortunate to escape similar punishment after following through on an angry Campbell.

The next booking was Lauren, for time-wasting early in the second period. It was an odd decision considering it was Arsenal who had forced the pace after the break with Jose Antonio Reyes bringing a sharp save from Heurelho Gomes and Campbell also going close. It would also prove significant for, after 64 minutes, Van Bommel having brought a good save from Lehmann in the interim, Lauren committed a dreadful foul on Ji-Sung Park. Arsène Wenger's Arsenal were once synonymous with red cards but this was their first of the season.

PSV responded by bringing on DaMarcus Beasley, but Arsenal refused to sit back and Henry forced Gomes to turn the ball round the post after a lengthy dribble.

Arsenal re-organised and looked comfortable but just 14 minutes later had to do so again after Vieira was booked for a tough challenge on Park. The Arsenal captain was stunned telling the officials: "I got the ball. It's unbelievable." It was the 10th dismissal of his Arsenal career.

Next to depart was Robin van Persie who injured himself making a terrible tackle which could have brought a further card if he had not been carried off on a stretcher. Arsenal, stretched and depleted, survived but while PSV could celebrate their own qualification Arsenal have work to do.

PSV Eindhoven (4-3-3): Gomes; Ooijer, Alex, Bouma, Lee; Van Bommel, Vogel (Beasley, 66), Cocu; Park, Sibon, Farfan. Substitutes not used: Zoetebier (gk), vonlanthen, Lucius, Addo, Feher.

Arsenal (4-4-2): Lehmann; Lauren, Toure, Campbell, Cole; Ljungberg, Vieira, Fabregas, Pires (Hoyte, 69); Reyes (Van Persie, 63; Flamini, 82), Henry. Substitutes not used: Almunia (gk), Cygan, Senderos, Pennant.

Referee: H Fandel (Germany)

¿ Uefa, the European game's governing body, may make Real Madrid play future games behind closed doors, or possibly even eject them from the Champions' League following the racist incidents that took place in their 1-1 draw in the Champions' League against Bayer Leverkusen in the Bernabeu stadium on Tuesday night.

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