Henry All Wright on the Night; Supersub Puts on Record Show after Reyes Is Crocked
THIERRY HENRY last night became Arsenal's record goalscorer but in reality his two stunning goals did so much more than win his side a Champions League game. They resuscitated a team dying on their feet.
He loped on to the pitch having barely run more than 50 yards to warm up yet within six minutes was back in the old routine, scoring an outstanding goal to remind everyone of his exceptional talents.
It was a strike worthy of any compilation of great goals. He controlled Kolo Toure's pass cleverly with his heel and swivelled to strike the ball with the out-side of his right foot. That gave his shot the arc it needed to beat Jaromir Blazek's despairing dive.
And to emphasise this was no isolated demonstration of his talent he added an exquisite second with footwork that would have made the contestants of Strictly Come Dancing sigh with envy.
They took his tally of Arsenal goals to 186, one more than the revered Ian Wright, whose name the ecstatic Arsenal fans chanted alongside that of their French icon.
They were goals that served to underline the depth of his talent and were a reminder of why Arsenal are prepared to abandon their longstanding policy on wages to give him the [pounds sterling]100,000 a week he merits in these days of inflated salaries.
His manager Arsene Wenger had brought Henry along to boost the morale of his deflated young players, little thinking he would need to force him into the action after 15 minutes.
The striker, he warned us, had not been training with the others, merely working on his fitness in the gymnasium, that he was ring rusty and worthy of 30 or 40 minutes at most.
Yet within two minutes of gracing the proceedings, he was taking a ball on his chest and delivering an exquisite volley which, fortunately for Sparta, deflected over.
This was merely his way of refocusing on the goal after 38 days recovering from a groin injury. When the opportunity fell on the right edge of the area, he sent the ball goalwards by special delivery.
He was an inspiration. Team-mates suddenly relaxed like a tired army whose wounded commander had returned. This was stirring football from the man with the Va Va Voom.
Victory also made it three on the Champions League bounce and, with nine points in the bag and a home tie against Sparta next up, their passage to the knockout stages of the competition is virtually assured. …