Wed, Feb 16, 2005 - Page 20 News List

Arsenal thrashes Crystal Palace 5-1

HENRY TEARS LOOSE Thierry Henry scored twice in his 200th Premiership appearance for the Gunners and was robbed of a hat-trick by a dubious refereeing decision

AFP , LONDON AND ROME

Arsenal celebrated fielding their first ever all-foreign squad by thrashing relegation-threatened Crystal Palace 5-1 on Monday.

Thierry Henry scored twice to record a memorable 200th Premiership appearance for the Gunners while the Frenchman was joined on the scoresheet by Dutchman Dennis Bergkamp, Spaniard Jose-Antonio Reyes and another Frenchman, Patrick Vieira.

Palace's leading scorer Andy Johnson scored a penalty for the visitors.

Victory still leaves the Premiership champions a distant 11 points adrift of leaders Chelsea in third place while Palace stay two points above the relegation zone.

The thrashing will have done nothing to boost their confidence ahead of playing both Chelsea and second-placed Manchester United in the coming weeks.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said that his side had been fortunate Palace had not taken some early chances.

Wenger refused to rule out catching Chelsea, who they still have to play, but indicated that even if they did not retain the title he was happy.

"We have a lot of good young players and for me the future is still bright," he said.

His Palace counterpart Iain Dowie refused to be disheartened by the walloping.

"You can't change things that happen in the past, you can only do that with the future and we are not demoralised," said the eloquent former Northern Ireland striker, who worked a miracle in taking Palace from the relegation zone to promotion last term.

Henry said that he should have had a hat-trick having one ruled out for offside.

"I am convinced it should have been a hat-trick," said Henry, who moved to 174 career goals for Arsenal and within 11 of Ian Wright's all-time club record.

Bergkamp beat Gabor Kiraly in the 32nd minute -- just after the tough-tackling Finnish midfielder Aki Riihahti had gone off injured with a calf muscle ailment -- as Reyes slipped across a pass and Bergkamp was on hand to slide it home for his third goal in successive Premiership home matches.

Kiraly saved Palace from going even further behind in the 38th minute as visiting defender Gonzalo Sorondo's header from Bergkamp's cross was tipped over the bar and seconds later the Hungarian saved them again as his legs turned away a Henry close-range effort for another corner.

However, from the ensuing corner Henry fired in a thunderbolt of an effort from the edge of the penalty area which Kiraly could do nothing about as it flashed into the top left-hand corner for his 22nd goal of the season.

Henry added his second in the 77th minute with a curling effort from inside the box after being found by Bergkamp.

Serie A

Serie A title-holders AC Milan stayed in close pursuit of leaders Juventus with a 1-0 win away to Reggina on Sunday.

The only goal of the game was scored in comical fashion by Reggina's Marco Zamboni, who put through his own net six minutes from half time when trying to make a clearance from his own penalty box.

The 27-year-old defender sliced the ball which spun backwards and looped over the head of Reggina keeper Nicola Pavarini.

Milan's third consecutive league victory enabled them to cut Juventus' advantage at the top of the table to two points.

Juve threw down the gauntlet to their title rivals earlier in the day with a 2-1 home win over Udinese which, for a few hours at least, extended their lead over the reigning champions to five points.

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