MX23RW : Monday, December 10 00:31:01

On this day: Luis Boa Morte nets Arsenal brace against Birmingham City

Eighteen years ago today, Luis Boa Morte scored two of his four goals for Arsenal during a League Cup tie against Birmingham City.

In total, Luis Boa Morte spent 15 years of his playing career in England, during which time he made over 400 appearances.

The Portuguese winger is perhaps best remembered for his stints with Fulham and West Ham United, but what is often forgotten is the fact that he actually started his stint in the Premier League with another London club - Arsenal.

In fact, Boa Morte was one of Arsene Wenger's first signings when he made the switch from Sporting Lisbon for a reported £1.75m in the summer of 1997. He would go on to make 39 appearances for the Gunners and score four goals, the first two of which arrived during a League Cup tie against Birmingham City 18 years ago today.

However, for a long while it seemed that Division One Birmingham were going to cause an upset at Highbury when they broke the deadlock in the 20th minute.

Lee Dixon could only clear Martin Grainger's cross as far as Tony Hey and the German midfielder punished the mistake by firing beyond Alex Manninger from six yards out.

Rather than shut up shop and attempt to defend their lead, Trevor Francis's Blues went for the jugular. Grainger saw his effort from distance shave the top of the crossbar, while Paul Devlin failed to hit the target from a matter of yards.

It meant that for all their pressure, Birmingham were unable to double their advantage and Boa Morte made them pay in the 62nd minute. Veteran defender Steve Bruce headed the ball straight at the Arsenal attacker, who fired it into the net from the edge of the area.

There were to be no more goals during normal time, although in the 83rd minute Darren Wassall saw red for Birmingham after he had committed a professional foul on the lively Boa Morte.

Yet, the away side need not have worried about their numerical disadvantage because within one minute of the start of extra-time and just 33 seconds after he had been introduced as a substitute, Arsenal debutant Jason Crowe was dismissed for a foul on O'Connor.

Nevertheless, Arsenal's superior fitness levels started to tell and they eventually took the lead for the first time in the 99th minute through former England international David Platt, who kept his composure from the penalty spot after Boa Morte had been fouled inside the area.

Boa Morte then added his second and the home side's third goal of the evening shortly after the restart, before Alberto Mendez, on what was his first ever outing for Arsenal, scored a fourth goal late on to secure a 4-1 win.


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Liverpool's Robbie Fowler holds aloft The Worthington Cup and Man of the Match trophies after beating Birmingham City at The Millenium Stadium in Cardiff Sunday 25 February 2001
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