Arsenal 1 Southampton 0

Last updated : 17 May 2003 By Footymad Previewer

Arsenal ended the season in style as they beat Southampton 1-0 at the Millennium Stadium to retain the FA Cup and clinch their third final success in the last six years.

The game almost had a dramatic start with a goal after just 20 seconds.

Thierry Henry outpaced Claus Lundekvam, who tried to haul the Frenchman back. The referee waved play on but Antti Niemi came out to block the Arsenal striker's effort with his legs.

Arsenal continued their bright start and in the eighth minute Henry forced Niemi into a smart save with Dennis Bergkamp unable to steer the rebound home from a tight angle.

At the other end David Seaman had to make a good save from Michael Svensson's header.

In the 11th minute a brilliant Bergkamp throughball sent Henry clear again but the Frenchman's weak shot was easily saved by Niemi.

In a lively opening Southampton created a good chance of their own four minutes later. The ball fell to Michael Svensson inside the penalty area after a scramble but the Swede snatched at his shot and it ballooned over the bar.

Four minutes later Chris Baird forced Seaman into a scrambling save as the young Northern Ireland defender, who was only starting his second game for the Saints, tried to curl an effort home.

After such an exciting opening 20 minutes the game became increasingly untidy until Robert Pires scored the crucial goal seven minutes before the interval.

Henry set up Bergkamp and although Freddie Ljungberg was unable to turn the Dutchman's cross home, Pires was on hand to lash a close-range shot past Niemi.

Pires almost added a second goal almost immediately but his effort sailed over the bar after good play by Henry.

Southampton started the second half well and Michael Svensson and James Beattie both went close as Arsenal struggled to regain their rhythm.

However, Wenger's side hit back and Bergkamp made space for himself with some fine trickery. Niemi saved the Dutchman's curled effort and Ljungberg fired the rebound into the side-netting.

In the 57th minute only Niemi's fingertips denied Henry a second goal on the counter-attack.

However, seven minutes later the Finnish keeper had to be carried off after tearing a calf muscle when clearing the ball, Paul Jones coming on to replace him.

Substitute Jo Tessem saw an effort blocked with his first touch of the ball with 15 minutes left before Seaman made a great reaction save to deny Brett Ormerod's snap-shot as the Saints pushed for an equaliser.

In a frantic finale Beattie almost equalised in the sixth minute of stoppage time only for his goalbound header to be cleared off the line by the alert Ashley Cole.