Two goals for the returning Thierry Henry left Arsenal on the verge of qualification for the knockout rounds of the Champions League.
The striker, not even sure of making the squad after returning from a groin injury, finished the match as the most prolific scorer in Arsenal’s illustrious history.
Despite their domestic troubles, Arsene Wenger’s side are the only British team with a 100 per cent record in Europe’s premier competition. They top Group B by five points from Ajax and need just one point from their three remaining games to reach the last 16.
Wenger was without the injured Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell, Alexander Hleb and Freddie Ljungberg whilst Dennis Bergkamp remained at home because of his fear of flying. Henry was initially left on the bench but Wenger did replace Philippe Senderos with Pascal Cygan in defence whilst Gilberto and Robin van Persie also returned to the side. Henry was pitched into the action sooner than expected after Jose Antonio Reyes broke a rib. The plan was to bring on the Frenchman for the last half an hour. Instead, he was introduced after 15 minutes and rewarded the travelling fans with an early volley which was deflected narrowly over.
They were cheering even more when a moment of magic from Henry gave Arsenal the lead. He controlled a long ball with a back heel, stopped dead and curled the neatest of shots with the outside of his right foot past a prone Prague keeper.
Sparta’s best opportunities of the first half fell to Zdenek Pospech, who continually tormented Gael Clichy on Arsenal’s left flank. However, he could not stop his side going in behind at the break. Henry made sure not only of the result but also of his place in the club’s history with a second goal late in the game. His chip over the keeper broke Ian Wright’s Arsenal record of 185 goals.