SPORTS

Thierry Henry grabs two goals to end Panathinaikos’s perfect record

LONDON – Two goals by France striker Thierry Henry ended the 100-percent record of Panathinaikos in Champions League Group C as Arsenal huffed and puffed to a 2-1 victory at Highbury late on Tuesday. Henry, who also scored twice in Arsenal’s 3-2 win over Schalke 04 in September, benefited from a glorious piece of cut-and-thrust soccer by compatriot Patrick Vieira to put the Londoners ahead midway through the first half – the first goal conceded by the Greek side in four European games. Nigerian striker Emmanuel Olisadebe equalized after a mistake by England center half Sol Campbell in the 50th minute before Arsenal striker Sylvain Wiltord was sandwiched in the area two minutes later and Henry scored from the spot. Henry has now scored 10 goals in the first 12 games of the season. Panathinaikos, who missed a penalty in the first half, still lead the first-phase group with nine points while Arsenal have joined Real Mallorca on six points after the Spanish side lost 4-0 at home to Schalke 04. Arsenal, Champions League quarter-finalists last season, started the game with their fourth different defensive partnership in four European games, Matthew Upson and Campbell, but the back line once again gave little cause for confidence and Campbell looked far from England class. The home side started aggressively but found the compact Greek defense difficult to breach and it was Panathinaikos’s Michalis Constantinou who had the better chances early on. The striker shot over the top after being put through in the sixth minute as Campbell desperately tackled back, and then shot just wide sliding in after Panayiotis Fissas crossed from the left. Vieira, back to his all-time best, showed he was in no mood for messing with a headed challenge on Paulo Sousa which left the Portuguese midfielder prone on the pitch. Up front, Henry and Sylvain Wiltord were linking poorly until Vieira broke up a Greek move in his own team with a sliding tackle, quickly got to his feet and set Henry free with a sliding pass. The striker coolly chipped over the goalkeeper to put Arsenal in front. Five minutes later the Greeks should have drawn level when a superb ball with the outside of his right foot by fullback Rene Henriksen put Olisadebe ahead of Upson and he tumbled in the area under the young defender’s challenge. But Richard Wright – playing his first European tie in place of injured England keeper David Seaman – saved the home side after Basinas, who ran the game for long periods in midfield, hit the ball at a perfect height for a diving save. Arsenal’s defensive frailties finally caught up with them in the 50th minute when Campbell let an attempted clearance slide off his head to Olisadebe. The striker beat right back Lauren in the area and blasted home from close in. Arsenal regained their lead almost immediately when France’s Wiltord and Robert Pires linked cleverly on the edge of the Panathinaikos area and Wiltord was brought down. Henry scored yet again and also notched a penalty against Schalke. Olisadebe hit the corner of Wright’s goal after a delicious turn and shot soon afterward but Arsenal just about deserved the three points, keeping the Greeks at bay, despite a few nervous moments, in the dying stages.