Henry fires Gunners past Leeds

09 January 2012 10:16

Thierry Henry came off the bench to enhance his Arsenal legend as the veteran French striker fired the Gunners into the fourth round of the FA Cup with a 1-0 win over Leeds at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal's record goalscorer had rejoined the club he left for Barcelona in 2007 on a short-term loan deal from New York Red Bulls and did not disappoint when he slotted home on 78 minutes to finally break the resistance of the npower Championship club.

It took Henry's Midas touch to ignite what had been a largely dull evening in north London, with the home side doing everything but score until his intervention. Andrey Arshavin wasted two good opportunities and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was a constant menace against the Championship side, whose best chances were squandered by Luciano Becchio and Mikael Forssell.

The Gunners, who rested current captain Robin van Persie, started strongly. On 15 minutes, Aaron Ramsey bolted to the edge of the Leeds penalty area and drove a rising shot just over the angle.

The Wales captain then saw his 12-yard effort deflected over following another mazy run by Arshavin.

There was some concern for Arsenal - already stretched in defence by a string of injuries - when Francis Coquelin pulled up clutching the top of his hamstring. Nico Yennaris, an 18-year-old England youth international, came on after 33 minutes to fill in at right-back.

The start of the second half brought more of the same as Arsenal probed the Leeds defence without making any real progress around the edge of the area. When Arshavin was picked out in space on the right by a lovely cross-field pass by Ignasi Miquel, the Russian's attempted half-volley flew horribly wide.

With 22 minutes left, Arsene Wenger signalled for his talisman as both Henry and Theo Walcott were introduced, replacing Marouane Chamakh and Oxlade-Chamberlain.

The French World Cup winner wiped away a tear as he ran out to rapturous applause, with his first touch coming as he drifted offside. However, his next intervention completed the fairytale comeback on 78 minutes as he collected Alex Song's pass into the left-hand side of the area before dispatching a trademark finish inside the far post to send the Emirates Stadium into a frenzy.

It was an historic moment indeed as the whole Arsenal team ran to celebrate Henry's 227th goal for the club, as he headed for the bench to embrace Wenger.

Source: PA