Full-time - 94'
1 - 2
18:45 +00:00, September 27, 2005
Amsterdam ArenA, Netherlands
FULL-TIME: Arsenal make it six points from six in their Champions League campaign. They probably deserved the win after controlling most of the game, though Ajax gave it a real go in the final twenty minutes.
SUB: Cygan on, Hleb off. Arsenal attempt to shore up their defence in the final seconds.
Owusu-Abeyie chases down a long Cole clearance, but he is penalised for tugging on the shirt of Grygera.
Almunia is booked for time-wasting when he kicks away a ball thrown to him by a ball-boy. Both goalkeepers have been booked tonight.
Rosenberg is winning more than his fair share of headers. Ajax win a corner off Cole. Galasek lofts the ball in to the back post, but it is a foot too long for Lindenbergh.
There will be five minutes of stoppage time, the majority of which will be for the lengthy break required when Toure and Charisteas clashed heads.
Owusu-Abeyie finds Hleb on the edge of the area with a measured pass, but the Belarussian mis-controls at the crucial time.
Pienaar finds Babel on the edge of the penalty area, but the youngster fires his shot high over Almunia's crossbar. Pienaar has been Ajax's best player by a distance.
Owusu-Abeyie is penalised for a high foot on the half-way line. Ajax pile players forward, but Arsenal remain organised and alert at the back.
SUB: Cliche on, Pires off. A defensive change for Arsenal. Pires was a doubt to start the game, so he has done well to last this long.
Oooh! Superb skill from Pienaar as he lifts the ball over two Arsenal defenders towards Lindenbergh, who opts not to head first-time for goal but to try and control the ball, allowing Toure time to get back and put him under pressure.
SUB: Emanuelson off, Juanfran on. A change at left-back for Ajax, the young Spaniard Juanfran coming on to try and offer a little more going forward in the final stages of the match.
Ajax are having a lot more of the ball than they have at any other time of the match, but they are still struggling to create any real pressure on the visitors.
Arsenal are pulling a lot more players back to defend as Ajax press for an equaliser. Owusu-Abeyie is now operating up front on his own.
SUB: Owusu-Abeyie replaces Reyes. The young substitute actually came through the Ajax academy before he was picked up by Arsenal. He will have something to prove tonight.
Oooh! Vonk makes a smart save after a deflection off Reyes came zipping towards him. Corner to Arsenal, who prepare to make a change.
De Jong shows good strength to rob the ball of Ljungberg inside the area after the Swede had been found by Reyes' precise cross.
Wenger would, I'm sure, love to make a change - his side are losing the ball too easily up front at the moment - but he has a very inexperienced bench.
De Jong beats three men with a great run from the right wing, though he is eventually dispossessed 25 yards out.
Rosenberg collects Pienaar's pass in to his feet, turns Toure and fires in a low shot from 25 yards, though it is easy for Almunia to gather.
The home crowd have come to life now; they are really getting behind their side and urging them forward.
Ajax are passing the ball with more zip and purpose now as they seek an equaliser. They are also committing lots of men forward, which is leaving a lot of space at the back for Arsenal to exploit.
Rosenberg is causing a few problems for the Arsenal defence; he is a lot more mobile than Charisteas, and his runs in to the channels are dragging the Arsenal defenders in to places they don't want to be in.
And Ajax probably deserved a goal themselves for a much-improved second-half showing. Galasek's shot from 25 yards beat Almunia's drive, though it struck the inside of the post. Rosenberg was quickest to react and placed the ball in to an empty net.
In review: Arsenal's penalty was certainly a correct decision from the referee - Reyes had his heels clipped by Vonk as he attempted to round him - though there was a little suspicion of off-side as he raced on to Pires' through-ball.
An incredible couple of minutes; Ajax will feel that the momentum is firmly with them following that goal.
GOAL! Rosenberg prods in to an empty net after Galsek's shot from 25 yards had struck the post and left Almunia beaten.
Galasek, I'm informed, was also booked following the referee's decision to award a penalty; he took his protestations too far.
...GOAL! Pires takes his time, allows the crowd to whistle themselves hoarse, before sending the goalkeeper the wrong way and sidefooting home.
PENALTY! Reyes is slipped through one and one with the goalkeeper, who clips his heals and brings down the Spaniard. He is booked for the challenge, and Arsenal have the chance to double their lead...
Oooh! Lovely reverse pass from Rosenberg sets Boukhari in to the penalty area, though Campbell makes a last-ditch challenge to rid him of the ball.
Reyes' rather lazy pass towards Lauren is cut out by Emanuelson. Arsenal are still committing players forward, even in this final half-hour of the match.
Toure is quick to come across and cut out a pass intended for Lindenbergh, but the ball runs out for a throw in a dangerous area.
Oooh! Pires runs at the heart of the Ajax back-line and slides a nice pass through to a rampant Ljungberg, though Vonk eventually comes off his line to collect from the feet of the Swede.
Arsenal still look very comfortable; Flamini and Fabregas are working very hard in midfield to close down the space, and consequently Ajax have rarely threatened.
The crowd are becoming increasingly frustrated at their team's inability to fashion any real chances for an equaliser.
Pienaar is booked for a challenge on Cole; it was a thigh-high lunge that the England man was lucky to emerge unscathed from.
Toure still appears a little dazed following his clash with Charisteas, although admittedly he looks confused and bewildered at the best of times.
Swift, positive attacking from Arsenal wins them a corner as Emanuelson puts the ball out. Vonk collects the set-piece easily.
Toure returns to the action with a rather fetching white bandage wrapped firmly around his brow.
SUB: Rosenberg replaces Charisteas, who continues to bleed unceasingly on the touchlines. Arsenal play with ten men whilst Toure is bandaged.
Toure is being taken from the field on a stretcher, worryingly. Neither play looks in any shape to continue; Toure grimaces as he is treated on the sidelines.
Toure and Charisteas clash heads as they challenge for a bouncing ball. The Greek striker is helped to his feet with blood pouring from a gash under his left eye. He looks a little shocked.
Ajax have certainly come out with a little more belief and purpose in the second half; they probably endured a unpleasant half-time chat with their manager.
De Jong drags a shot a couple of yards wide of Almunia's post from the edge of the penalty area/
Lauren brings down Boukhari on the right touchline. Ajax Moroccan lets out the yelp of a scolded dog as he hits the grass. Free-kick.
Oooh! Almunia gets strong hands on a Babel drive from the right-edge of the penalty area. A good effort, well saved.
Hleb almost manages to slip Ljungberg through, though Vermaelen sticks out a telescopic leg and cuts out the pass.
Boukhari looks a little like a 1970s soul singer; his hair is a beautiful shock of black curls that cascade down his brow like a waterfall.
Reyes and Boukhari eye each other after they challenge strongly just inside the Ajax half. The referee sorts the situation out with a simple raising of his eyebrows.
Already Emanuelsen is showing more willing to get forward; he sprints on to Boukhari's one-two and fires a dangerous low pass in to the penalty area, though Toure clears.
Campbell is fouled by Pienaar, and the Arsenal captain is a little slow in getting to his feet. He's okay, though; no panic.
No changes at half time as Arsenal kick off. Ajax will be keen to show a little more ambition in this second half.
The players are back on the field, and we're good to go.
HALF-TIME: Arsenal good value for their lead; they have looked comfortable and solid at the back, and constantly threatening going forward.
Oooh! Pienaar threads a nice ball through to Boukhari in the middle. The Ajax man approaches Almunia, halts and lays the ball in to Pienaar's path, but the South African blazes his shot high over the bar with only Toure stood on the goalline.
Ajax will need a lot more support to their front man if they are to prosper in the second half; Arsenal have coped comfortably with all the home side have offered thus far.
Babel manages to stumble his way past a couple of Arsenal challenges, but Cole stands firm and robs him as he approaches the Arsenal penalty area.
Galasek shows good vision to spread the play out to De Long, but after receieving a return pass he carelessly gifts possession back to Arsenal.
Reyes takes the corner, aimed towards the far post, but it's too high for Campbell and the ball drifts harmlessly out for a goal-kick.
Arsenal win another corner when Lauren tries to beat Emanuelsen down the right and the young Ajax full-back is forced to put the ball out.
Vonk comes for a ball that he couldn't possibly reach on the left side of his penalty area; Reyes volleys the ball across the vacant goalmouth to the far post, but it is too strong for Pires and Ajax have time to reorganise.
Reyes comes deep and picks up the ball, turns and runs at his marker, though Vermeulen manages to get a toe on the ball and halt the momentum.
There have been a lot of niggly little free-kicks in the last ten minutes or so, and it has broken up the tempo of the game.
Reyes curls the set-piece in to the penalty area where Pires has a free-header. He choses not to go for goal but to try and head across to a team-mate, but Flamini is caught off-side.
Hleb rather theatrically hits the turf after having his ankles clipped by Lindenbergh. Free-kick.
Lauren times his challenge on Emanuelsen very well as he slides in and puts the ball out for a throw in; that was one of the few times that the young Ajax full-back has got in to the final third.
Hleb is fouled by Vermaelen. The Belarussian has made a good start to his Arsenal career, and has been equally impressive so far this evening; he is a strong runner in possession and very threatening going forward.
Galasek has a volley from 25 yards deflected out for a corner, though his centre in to the middle is headed clear by Toure.
Wenger doesn't look entirely content on the Arsenal bench; he is very animated about something. One might almost say he looks angry.
Campbell is lucky to win a free-kick when he is caught in possession by Boukhari in his own half.
Ajax are missing two very fine full-backs in Maxwell and Trabelsi, and their young replacements are struggling a little against the pace and movement of the Arsenal forwards.
Arsenal look quite comfortable; they have limited the home side to a couple of shots from distance, and look threatening in attack themselves. A good first half-hour for Wenger's men.
Ljungberg capitalises on a mis-kick by Vermaelen, sprints in to the area but stumbles as he closes in on goal. Goal-kick.
Oooh! Boukhari crashes a great shot from distance which Almunia can't quite keep hold of, though the Spanish keeper recovers in time to snatch the ball from the feet of Charisteas.
Almunia is put under a little pressure by Pienaar as he tries to clear Campbell's pass-back.
Pires clips the free-kick in to the area, but it's not a good set-piece and the home side clear comfortably.
Pienaar and Galasek combine to bring down Reyes, who requires some treatement from the Arsenal trainer. The last thing Arsenal need is another injury at this stage.
Toure stretches out a leg and makes a crucial interception as Boukhari attempts to slide a pass down the channel to Charisteas.
Pires almost finds Cole with a through-ball in to the area, though the Arsenal full-back feels the presence of Babel and mis-controls.
Arsenal are dominant at the moment; they are having much more of the ball and look far more threatening as they go forward.
Reyes is penalised for raising his foot too high as he challenged for a ball with Grygera.
The referee makes sure that the Ajax wall is ten yards away as Pires lines-up the free-kick, but the Frenchman's side-foot shot is blocked.
Cole whips a great cross in to the penalty area towards Ljungberg; the ball runs away from him for a moment, but Reyes is brought down just outside the area as he latched on to the loose ball. Free-kick.
Hleb wins his side a corner when he determindly runs down a long ball and plays the ball off Enabuelsen.
The Ajax fans seem to be getting a little frustrated; Arsenal are in no hurry to take free-kicks and throws, and it seems to be annoying the home fans.
Reyes swings the ball in left-footed, but it's too high for Campbell and Ljungberg.
Boukhari slides in and fouls Lauren on the right touchline. Free-kick to the visitors.
The corner comes in from the left, but Babel plants his header high and wide from around the penalty shot.
Almunia is caught in two minds as Pienaar sprints on to Galasek's pass from the left-wing, but Campbell is alert and quick enough to slide in and put the ball out for a corner before the Ajax man can get a shot away.
Babel shows good skill to cut in from the right wing, beat a couple of Arsenal challenges before hammering a left-foot shot over the bar from 25 yards.
Two very technically-skilled sides are making for a very pleasant game to watch.
Pires trips De Jong as the full-back cut in from the right wing. The game is being played across the full width of the pitch; both sides are regularly spreading the play out to the flanks.
There has been some nice passing on display in the early stages of the game; the ball has barely left the turf so far.
Reyes rather scuffs a shot from just outside the penalty area; he had a couple of players in support, but opted to shoot when off-balance.
Cole puts in a good challenge on Pienaar out on the left touchline. Arsenal, despite all their injuries, do at least have an experienced defence out; that could be crucial.
Boukhari blasts a long-range shot high over Almunia's cross-bar. The noise level has certainly dropped following Arsenal's early strike.
What a great start for Arsenal; the ball was given away needlessly in midfield by the home side, and Arsenal capitalised ruthlessly.
GOAL! Arsenal take the lead inside two minutes with a superb goal from Ljungberg. A nice passing move led to Reyes playing a cute pass through to Freddie, who calmly lifted the ball over Vonk from just inside the area.
Arsenal have a very young central midfield partnership in Flamini (21) and Fabregas (19).
We're off. Both sides are well short of their best XI tonight, but there are some terrific players on display.
Ajax wear their traditional red and white strip; Arsenal their yellow away shirts.
There is a fantastic atmosphere inside the Ajax Amsterdam Arena tonight; there are some big names missing from the team-sheets, though I think we are still in for a fascinating night.
Team news: Robert Pires returns to the Arsenal side after recovering from a dead leg; Mathieu Flamini plays in the centre and Freddie Ljungberg will push up in support of striker Jose Antonio Reyes.
Nigel De Jong
José Antonio Reyes