Everton threw away a 2-0 lead in the final seven minutes against Arsenal at Goodison Park on Saturday, as the Gunners rallied to score twice late on and snatch a point from the jaws of defeat.
Agony for Everton. Ecstasy for Arsenal.
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The Toffees struck twice in the first half through Seamus Coleman and Steven Naismith, as Arsenal were punished for sloppy defending. Roberto Martinez’s looked at ease for large swathes of the match but half time substitute Olivier Giroud went close on three occasions for the Gunners in the second half and that was a warning of what was to come late on.
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Arsene Wenger’s men finally got on the board with seven minutes left as Santi Cazorla’s ball to the back post was tapped home by Aaron Ramsey to make it 2-1. then Giroud popped up in the 90th minute to equalize and stun the home crowd on Merseyside.
Roberto Martinez’s side now have two points from their opening two games, both 2-2 draws where they’ve squander leads late on, while Arsenal have one win and one draw after dramatic late goals in both of their opening PL games of 2014-15. Did they deserve a point against Everton on Saturday? Probably not, but they got it.
Arsenal now go into their crucial UEFA Champions League play-off second leg against Besiktas at the Emirates on Wednesday with a spring in their step.
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An early injury to Steven Pienaar caused a reshuffle for the home side as Leon Osman replaced the South African international in midfield. In the 16th minute Arsenal were handed a glorious chance to take the lead as Coleman played a poor clearance straight to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain but the Arsenal man pushed his side-footed effort just wide. A real let off for the Toffees.
Soon after Coleman popped up at the other end of the pitch and gave Everton the lead. A short free kick from Leighton Baines found Gareth Barry and the midfielder clipped a delicate ball towards the back post which Coleman headed in unmarked. Mesut Ozil didn’t track Coleman and Calum Chambers dropped deep to keep Coleman and Romelu Lukaku onside as the Gunners defended sloppily at Goodison.
Arsenal looked disjointed going forward as long balls up to Alexis Sanchez weren’t sticking and the North Londoners were being frustrated by a stubborn Everton defense. Then right on half time Lukaku surged past Per Meresacker down the right flank and played in Naismith, who seemed to be in an offside position, but the Scotsman slotted home to make it 2-0 to give Everton a commanding lead.
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Predictably Arsenal changed things up at half time as Olivier Giroud replaced Sanchez in attack and the Frenchman almost scored with his first touch. Chamberlain dinked a delightful ball towards the back post and Giroud smashed a volley across Tim Howard but the ball flew over the bar as a glorious chance went begging.
The Gunners were much better int he second half as the pressed to get back into the game. Giroud smashed an effort wide just after the hour mark and the Frenchman was thwarted by Howard soon after as the U.S. international saved well from a snapshot in the box.
Lukaku continued to be a threat on the break for Everton as bookings to Jack Wilshere, Mertesacker, Mathieu Flamini and Chambers signified Arsenal’s frustration with how things were playing out. Referee Kevin Friend kept a lid on things and Arsenal had the lions share of possession in the second half and that finally told as Ramsey tapped home Cazorla’s delicious set-up to the back post.
The Gunners then snatched a point in the final minute of normal time as Giroud scored to break the hearts of Everton’s fans in dramatic fashion. What a finish and what an incredible comeback from the Gunners.
Everton: Howard, Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Barry, McCarthy, Mirallas (Atsu, 85′), Naismith, Pienaar (Osman, 10′), Lukaku (McGeady, 76′)
Goals: Coleman (19′), Naismith (44′)
Arsenal: Szczesny, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Chambers, Monreal, Flamini, Chamberlain (Campbell, 74′), Wilshere (Cazorla, 74′), Ramsey, Ozil, Alexis (Giroud, 45′)
Goals: Ramsey (83′), Giroud (90′)