Birmingham City 2 Arsenal 1
Birmingham City ended their season on a high note and made a little piece of history in the process.
Goals from Walter Pandiani and Emile Heskey, either side of a disputed Denis Bergkamp goal, were enough to give Steve Bruce's men their first Premiership win over the Gunners.
For Arsenal, it was a disappointing end to an unbeaten run that stretched back 15 games to the Champions League away defeat to Bayern Munich.
With ten minutes left, the game was slowly winding down to a thoroughly uninspiring goalless draw. Then a corner from Jermaine Pennant caused chaos in the Arsenal penalty box and as the ball ping-ponged around, Pandiani prodded it into the open net.
It was the South American's fourth goal in 14 games and was followed immediately by a yellow card when he removed his shirt during the celebrations. Not that he is likely to care.
The goal stung Arsenal into action. Patrick Vieira, who until that moment had been enjoying an usually sedate afternoon, started driving from midfield, Bergkamp found more space than he had done previously and the fresh legs of Jeremie Aliadiere gave Blues centrebacks Matthew Upson and Kenny Cunningham a testing last quarter.
In the end it was Vieira and Bergkamp who undid the Blues defence. Vieira dinked a ball over the top and found Bergkamp unmarked in the box.
Although goalkeeper Maik Taylor got a hand on the shot that followed, the ball still dribbled into the goal. Blues were incensed, claiming that the Arsenal striker was offside, but referee Dermot Gallagher remained unmoved.
If Birmingham's defending for the equaliser had been generous, then Arsenal's was doubly so a minute later.
Substitute Olivier Tebily swung a ball toward the visitors' box, Pandiani flicked it on, and while goalkeeper Jens Lehmann and defender Philippe Senderos waited for each other to claim the ball, Heskey nipped in and smashed it home.
It was no more than the home side deserved. Having dominated for much of the game, to have been denied by a disputable goal would have been cruel.
As it is, Blues fans can look forward to next season with renewed optimism.
Pennant had an excellent game against his old club and his link-up play with Mario Melchiot and Pandiani caused Arsenal problems all afternoon. Upson put in another solid display in the centre of defence, as did Cunningham, so Bruce has the makings of a good side, but up-front is still cause for concern.
Despite scoring, Heskey did nothing to suggest that Sven-G^ran Eriksson was wrong to leave him out of England's summer tour to the United States and Pandiani's future remains uncertain.
Clinton Morrison's status must also be questionable. His lack of pace at this level is worrying and none of the strikers in Bruce's squad give the impression of being prolific.
So, one game does not a season make, and while it would be wrong to forget the problems, a win gives the summer break a more positive feel. Which is more than can be said for the first 45 minutes of this encounter. In an instantly forgettable first half, people's minds were clearly elsewhere - Arsenal's certainly were.
Unlike their hosts, Arsenal's season has one more week left to run. The small matter of the FA Cup final has still to be decided.
So while the Arsenal players saw themselves gently through the first half, their supporters also used the game as a warm-up. Several variations of the 'stars and stripes' were unfurled and the chant 'USA, USA, USA', was practised for the moment that they might taunt their Manchester United counterparts next Saturday.
It left Bruce's men playing against a side keen not to get injured in a game that had as much riding on it as a preseason friendly. Not that it should detract from the home side's performance.
Birmingham chased and harried and outran the visitors, reducing them to speculative shots from the edge of the box for most of the half.
In fact, it wasn't until the 25th minute that Arsenal had their first effort on goal, when Robin van Persie's snap shot drifted just wide of Taylor's far post. By then, Birmingham should have already been one goal up.
Pandiani cut in from the left, shrugged off the attentions of Senderos, left Lehmann scrambling and cut the ball back for Stephen Clemence. The midfielder, though, slightly over-ran the ball and, under pressure from Campbell, could only manage to fire over the bar.
In the end the miss didn't count. Blues continued to dominate against an Arsenal side who appeared to have their minds on other matters.
So Birmingham sent their fans away for the summer with smiles on their faces and as the players completed the obligatory farewell lap, the last big cheer of the afternoon went up.
But this one wasn't for Pandiani or Heskey, Upson or Bruce. No, on the news that West Bromwich Albion had survived, St Andrew's rose as one to acclaim their neighbours ' remarkable achievement.
Scorers: Pandiani (80) 1-0; Bergkamp (88) 1-1; Heskey (89) 2-1.
BIRMINGHAM CITY (4-4-2): Maik Taylor; Clapham, Cunningham, Upson, Melchiot (Tebily, 78); Carter (Morrison, 62), Clemence, Nafti, Pennant; Heskey, Pandiani (Martin Taylor, 89). Subs: Vaesen, Blake.
ARSENAL (4-4-2): Lehmann; Cole, Campbell, Senderos, Toure; Gilberto, Vieira, Fabregas (Flamini, 75), Ljungberg (Edu, 68); van Persie (Aliadiere, 68), Bergkamp. Subs: Almunia, Eboue.
Referee: D Gallagher (Oxon). Booking: Birmingham - Pandiani ( ungentlemanly conduct).
Blues man of the match: Jermaine Pennant - fine performance against his old club. Looked good all afternoon.