Swiss roll for sub Bergkamp
By Rob Lancaster. Last Updated: 14/09/05 9:31pm
Dennis Bergkamp came off the bench to spare Arsenal's blushes as the Dutchman's late strike gave his side a 2-1 win against FC Thun.
The Gunners seemed set to endure another difficult night in Europe as Nelson Ferreira's lucky lob cancelled out Gilberto Silva's goal in a stormy contest at Highbury that saw Robin Van Persie red-carded just before half-time for a head-high challenge.
The Swiss side appeared likely to crown their UEFA Champions League debut with a well-earned point until Bergkamp, on as a second-half substitute, tucked away a loose ball in the closing minutes.
Even before Van Persie's dismissal Arsenal had struggled as they lacked a cutting edge in the final third without the injured Thierry Henry.
Robert Pires' curling shot in the opening minutes set the tone for the match as FC Thun found themselves camped out in their own half.
Visiting keeper Eldin Jakupovic was forced to turn away shots from both Van Persie and Jose Antonio Reyes as the home side's youthful striking partnership showed early promise.
Kolo Toure also forced the custodian into action with a driven free-kick, although the defender may have considered himself somewhat lucky to still be on the pitch after dragging down Mauro Lustrinelli after the striker had picked up a loose ball just inside his own half.
Polish referee Grzegorz Gilewiski deemed the Ivory Coast international only deserved a yellow for the incident, although he reduced the home side to 10 men just before the interval when Van Persie was given a straight red for his lunge on Alen Orman, which left the former Hibernian man with a nasty gash on his head.
Despite being a man down, Arsenal continued to press forward and finally got the breakthrough with a rare goal from a set-piece after the interval.
Gilberto powerfully headed home a right-wing corner to put Arsene Wenger's side 1-0 up as Thun finally conceded a goal in this season's competition after shutting out both Dynamo Kiev and Malmo to qualify for the group stages.
However, the visitors managed to get themselves on level terms as they quickly responded with a goal of their own on a rare foray forward.
Ferreira's lob back into the box from the left caught out Manuel Almunia in the home goal as the ball dipped over the Spaniard, who was starting in place of Jens Lehmann, into the right corner of the net.
It was a somewhat fortuitous moment for the Swiss, with Ferriera's attempt appearing to be no more than a hopeful ball played back into the danger zone.
The goal stunned the Highbury faithful and forced Arsenal to go on the offensive in search of a second goal.
Freddie Ljungberg's forward run found him with a chance on goal, but the Swede was unable to poke the ball on target before he collided with the onrushing Jakupovic.
The arrival of Bergkamp and Alexandr Hleb gave the English side plenty of attacking options, although Thun were more than able to cope with the pressure of Arsenal's intricate passing as the game looked set to end deadlocked.
But, with time running out, Bergkamp managed to manufacture a chance from a long ball forward and he tucked the ball home to give Wenger's troops maximum points after they had made hard work of what should have been a straightforward home win.
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|Arsenal||Team Statistics||FC Thun|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|8||Shots on Target||3|
|7||Shots off Target||3|
UEFA Champions League
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