Arsenal crush Portsmouth
March 6 , 2004
Portsmouth 1 Arsenal 5
Jose Antonio Reyes volleyed against the bar early on, before Thierry Henry pounced on a deflection and fired home.
Arsenal added two more in the closing stages of the first-half, as Fredrik Ljungberg curled the ball past Shaka Hislophome and then Kolo Toure struck.
Henry and Ljungberg then each scored a second goal, before Ayegbeni Yakubu and Matthew Taylor rattled the woodwork and Teddy Sheringham's flick found the net.
Despite the slippery conditions, Arsenal quickly began to weave their intricate passing patterns.
Prominent in many of those eye-catching moves was Reyes, who almost gave Arsenal a second-minute lead when he ratteld the crossbar with a wonderful left-footed half-volley.
The young Spaniard then almost got on to the end of Patrick Vieiras' inswinging cross from the right.
Reyes also played a part in Henry's goal as he made a dangerous run into the Portsmouth box.
Petri Pasanen managed to block Ljungberg's pass to Reyes with a sliding tackle, but the ball broke kindly for Henry, who finished with aplomb.
Arsenal continued to open up the Portsmouth almost at will.
Ljungberg and Henry combined with a slick one-two allowing the Frenchman to cut the ball back for Edu, whose low shot was well saved by Hislop.
Vieira also went close, powering a header narrowly wide from a corner.
In the closing stages of the first-half Arsenal emphasised their superiority with two more goals.
First Edu slipped the ball between Pasanen and Linvoy Primus to Ljungberg, who calmly curled the ball past Hislop.
Kolo Toure then capitalised on some slack Portsmouth defending from a corner allowing the Arsenal defender to show low past Hislop.
Arsenal's finishing masterclass contrasted sharply with Portsmouth's lack of confidence in front of goal, notably when Ivica Mornar took too many touches and the danger passed
The second-half was only four minutes old when Henry scored his second with a clever goal that displayed his quick thinking as he sent a low curling shot through a thicket of players to surprise Hislop.
Ljungberg also claimed a second, when his deflected shot gave Hislop no chance.
As Arsenal eased up Yakubu headed against the bar, Taylor hit the post with a low shot and then Sheringham, who had come on as a substitute, flicked the ball .over Jens Lehmann.