Arsenal 2-1 Thun
A last minute goal by veteran Dutch forward Dennis Bergkamp atoned for the earlier dismissal of his younger, more callow compatriot Robin Van Perise, as Arsenal struggled to a 2 – 1 victory over Swiss side FC Thun.
Thun – who only turned professional three years ago – employed a five men in midfield, stifling Arsenal’s creative instincts, and limiting them, initially, to speculative long range efforts, first from Van Persie, then from Pires. Thuns only real opening in the first half came courtesy of Pimenta Adriano, who’s low drive forced a decent save out Manuel Almunia, who was keeping goal in place of the suspended Jens Lehemann.
Such was the paucity of chances, that the first 45 minutes of the match were most notable for the sending off of Van Persie. The 22- year-old – who had inspired much of Arsenal’s best play – raised a foot while challenging for a high ball, catching Alen Orman in the process. Though there appeared to be no intent on the Dutchman’s part, he duly received his marching orders a minute shy of the interval.
Galvanized, perhaps, by a sense of injustice, Arsenal were more purposeful in the second half, and took the lead after 51 minutes when Gilberto headed in a Robert Pires corner.
The Gunners celebrations were shortlived, however, as two minutes later, the visitors restored parity through Nelson Ferrera. Arsene Wenger’s blushes were saved, though, when substitute Bergkamp scored from close range after an impressive passage of play.