Group B Roundup
Valencia dumps Arsenal; Ajax holds Roma to advancePosted: Wednesday March 19, 2003 4:48 PM
Updated: Wednesday March 19, 2003 6:30 PM
VALENCIA, Spain (Reuters) -- John Carew struck twice to earn Valencia a 2-1 victory at home to Arsenal on Wednesday and send the Spaniards through to the quarterfinals of the Champions League at the English side's expense.
Arsenal, needing just a draw to make it through to the last eight, fell behind on 34 minutes to Carew's first but hauled themselves back into the game with a Thierry Henry strike four minutes after the break.
Carew put his side back in front on 57 minutes with a diving header, though, and that proved enough to give Valencia the victory they needed to go through as Group B winners ahead of Ajax Amsterdam in the runners-up spot.
The final whistle sparked long and loud celebrations from the Mestalla crowd, with victory coming on the spectacular final night of the festival of Las Fallas.
For Arsenal there was only disappointment, as a side tipped as possible European champions this season were left in third place in the group with seven points from six games.
It was an all too familiar story for Arsene Wenger's side, who were knocked out of the quarterfinals two years ago by a headed goal from Carew.
The Norwegian striker was a class apart on Wednesday, with the Arsenal defense proving unable to deal with his power and pace.
Arsenal had, in fact, dominated early on and they came desperately close to taking the lead just before the half-hour mark.
Henry's sharp angled pass found Sylvain Wiltord in space in the area and only swift reaction from Roberto Ayala and Santiago Canizares between them averted the danger.
Then, from the resulting corner, Henry's powerful header was cleared on to the bar by Vicente.
Valencia responded positively to that let-off and were ahead with five minutes. Pablo Aimar was the architect, the Argentine playmaker outfoxing the Arsenal midfield as he turned a neat pass into Carew's path.
The striker motored past the Arsenal defense and beat Stuart Taylor with a precise shot low at the keeper's near post.
Arsenal were knocked from their stride and Valencia were able to play out the remainder of the half without being troubled.
The English side came hurtling back after the break, though, and Henry had them back level as he took a Robert Pires through ball and curled a shot past Canizares.
That scoreline would have been enough to send Arsenal through but they were never allowed to settle as Valencia surged forward.
Vicente forced a great save from Taylor with his header on 56 minutes but a minute later the Arsenal keeper was beaten for a second time.
Vicente was once again at the heart of the move, the Spanish international winger making space down the left and crossing for Carew to angle in his header.
That left Arsenal a little over half an hour to find a second equalizer but they remained oddly subdued in attack, as Valencia continued to make most of the running.
Canizares was replaced in goal by Andres Palop with a little under 20 minutes left after he was caught in the head while claiming a short pass intended for Fredrik Ljungberg.
Palop was impeccable for the remainder of the game as the Spaniards protected their lead.
Their only real scare came in the third of five minutes of injury time when Pires went down on the left side of the area following a tackle from Anthony Reveillere.
The referee waved away Arsenal claims for a penalty, booked Pires for his trouble, and Valencia played out the last couple of minutes untroubled.
Anglophile Carew sinks Arsenal again
VALENCIA, Spain (Reuters) -- John Carew's love of the English game provided the inspiration for his match-winning performance against Arsenal, victorious Valencia coach Rafa Benitez said on Wednesday.
Carew struck both goals in Valencia's 2-1 victory over Arsenal at Mestalla, a result that took the Spanish side through to the quarterfinals of the Champions League as Group B winners and handed the English champions an early exit.
The Norwegian striker was also the difference between the two sides two years ago, when Valencia beat Arsenal on away goals in the quarterfinals, and Benitez was delighted to see a repeat performance.
"The biggest challenge for Carew is to score in the Champions League," Benitez said after the game.
"He has a special motivation when he plays against English sides. He loves English football and that makes it special for him.
"He completed the work of the whole team with his goals tonight."
Carew was close to moving to English premier league club Fulham last year but will no doubt be happy he got to face Arsenal on an even bigger stage.
The London club had the better of the early part of the game but Carew's opener after 34 minutes put them off their stride.
Thierry Henry managed an equalizer early in the second half but Carew headed his side back into the lead after 57 minutes and the Spaniards never looked back.
"Arsenal played calmly in the opening 20 minutes, looking for space and creating chances," Benitez said.
"They lost their identity after the goal, though. They played less creatively."
Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger recognized that his side had missed a great chance to reach the quarterfinals after enjoying a good start to the game.
"We were on top in the first half but we couldn't take advantage," Wenger said. "Valencia had just one chance in the first half and they scored from it.
Knowing that a draw would have been enough to put his side through, Wenger said his players were torn between going for the win and holding out.
"We lost the game when we were at 1-1 in the second half and we didn't know what to do," Wenger said.
Valencia 2 Arsenal 1 - result
Champions League second phase, Group B
Valencia -- John Carew 34, 57
Arsenal -- Thierry Henry 49
Halftime: 1-0; Attendance: 50,000
Valencia: 1-Santiago Canizares (13-Andres Palop 70); 33-Anthony Reveillere, 4-Roberto Ayala, 2-Mauricio Pellegrino, 15-Amedeo Carboni; 19-Francisco Rufete, 6-David Albelda, 21-Pablo Aimar, 14-Vicente; 11-Juan Sanchez (20-Miguel Angel Angulo 68), 7-John Carew (12-Carlos Marchena 89)
Arsenal: 13-Stuart Taylor; 12-Lauren, 23-Sol Campbell, 18-Pascal Cygan, 28-Kolo Toure (25-Nwankwo Kanu 87); 11-Sylvain Wiltord (9-Francis Jeffers 76), 4-Patrick Vieira, 19-Gilberto, 8-Fredrik Ljungberg, 7-Robert Pires; 14-Thierry Henry
Referee: Kyros Vassaras (Greece).
Draw at Roma enough to send Ajax into last eight
ROME (Reuters) -- Ajax Amsterdam progressed to the quarterfinals of the Champions League on Wednesday, holding off a determined fightback by AS Roma to draw 1-1 at Rome's Olympic Stadium on Wednesday.
The result means that Fabio Capello's Roma side go out of the competition as Valencia took the other qualification spot with their 2-1 win over Arsenal.
Roma, like Arsenal, go out of the competition at the same stage as last year, though unlike the English champions, Fabio Capello's side had little chance of going through.
While Ajax needed only a draw, the Italians were in last place in group B and required a win against the Dutch to stand any chance of making the quarterfinals.
Their hopes looked even slimmer after just 36 seconds when winger Andy van der Meyde latched on to a long pass on the left, shook off Leandro Cufre and rifled the ball into the top right corner of Ivan Pelizzoli's goal.
Cufre was again outclassed 15 minutes later when Van der Meyde muscled past him to take another shot on goal, though this time he directed the ball straight at Pelizzoli.
The Dutch, however, were less impressive at the back, and Roma were able to take advantage of gaping spaces left between defenders Cristian Chievu and Petri Pasanen.
In the 23rd minute Roma's French winger Vincent Candela picked out striker Antonio Cassano with a neat pass into the area and the ex-Bari player coolly slotted the ball past Bogdan Lobont to equalize.
Roma continued to look the more dangerous side until the interval, creating chances for striker Marco Delvecchio and midfielder Damiano Tommasi, and they remained so in the second half, though Pelizzoli had to be alert to pluck a curling cross out of the air inches from the head of Ajax striker Zlatan Ibrihamovic in the 56th minute.
With a little under half an hour remaining, Roma coach Fabio Capello brought on striker Vincenzo Montella in an attempt to find the winner.
His team, however, failed to keep possession long enough to put pressure on the Ajax goal and Roma's attacks grew more ragged as the minutes passed.
Ajax, meanwhile, were in no mood to hurry, and sat back defending, content to hit the hosts on the break.
Roma, ever more desperate, went close eight minutes from time when midfielder Gianni Guigou slid a low ball across goal but Delvecchio's lunge arrived a fraction too late.
Five minutes later Diego Fuser wasted Roma's best chance of the second half when, alone in front of goal, he fired over the bar from just outside the six-yard box.
Ajax held out, having done enough to make the quarterfinals, while Roma, who blew a great opportunity for a late winner in their 1-1 draw at Arsenal last week, were again left to rue their missed chances.
AS Roma 1 Ajax Amsterdam 1 -- result
Champions League second phase, Group B
AS Roma -- Antonio Cassano 23
Ajax -- Andy van der Meyde 1
Halftime: 1-1; Attendance: 70,500
AS Roma: 22-Ivan Pelizzoli; 13-Leandro Cufre, 23-Christian Panucci, 6-Aldair, 32-Vincent Candela; 2-Cafu (7-Diego Fuser 81), 17-Damiano Tommasi (25-Gianni Guigou 81), 11-Emerson, 8-Lima (9-Vincenzo Montella 65); 24-Marco Delvecchio, 18-Antonio Cassano.
Ajax: 1-Bogdan Lobont; 2-Hatem Trabelsi, 16-Petri Pasanen, 5-Cristian Chivu, 18-John O'Brien; 7-Andy van der Meyde (27-Victor Sikora 72), 10-Steven Pienaar, 4-Tomas Galasek, 13-Maxwell; 23-Rafael van der Vaart, 9-Zlatan Ibrahimovic (8-Richard Witschge 90).
Referee: Herbert Fandel (Germany).
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