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Vieira drives Arsenal forward
Updated: 2004-12-30 10:08

Arsenal scraped a vital 1-0 victory at Newcastle to stay hanging onto the coat-tails of Premiership leaders Chelsea.

Arsenal's Patrick Viera (2nd L) celebrates with Thierry Henry (R) and Robert Pires after scoring against Newcastle during their Premiership football match at St James Park in Newcastle, 29 December 2004. [AFP]
A deflected 25-yard shot from Patrick Vieira in first-half stoppage time was all that separated the sides in a tense and often scrappy clash at St James' Park.

But with the Blues holding an eight-point gap at the start of the game, Arsene Wengers's Gunners will have been glad to reduce the deficit and move on.

Arsenal had the better of much of the first half and Thiery Henry hit the outside of the post after a quarter of an hour.

But it looked destined to be a goalless first 45 until Freddie Ljungberg robbed Jermaine Jenas and flicked on for Vieira, whose chip forward hit a Newcastle defender and rebounded back nicely for the midfielder to wallop a dipping shot over a bemused Shay Given.

Newcastle best shout in the opening period was for a penalty against Ashley Cole, who appeared to handle to prevent the ball reaching Craig Bellamy.

The Gunners were lack-lustre for much of the second half but Newcastle's spirited effort failed to carve out a clear-cut chance for an equaliser.

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