Crystal Palace 1-2 Arsenal: Towering Sanchez header caps flying game

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Alexis Sanchez, on his first start of the season, gave Arsenal its first win of the year when he rose high above Joel Ward to crash home a powerful header 10 minutes after halftime, directed into the net by the wayward leg of Damien Delaney for an own-goal.

The win for the Gunners is a quality one, needed to relieve the pressure of an opening day loss to West Ham last weekend.

Olivier Giroud opened the scoring early with an eye-popping volley, but it was cancelled out by a Joel Ward strike before the half-hour mark.

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The first 10 minutes were a whirlwind, with Palace using their pace to try and push Arsenal’s high-powered attackers back into their own half. It nearly did them in, however, as the Gunners missed a pair of brilliant chances.

Mesut Ozil found Olivier Giroud in front of goal on five minutes but the French striker couldn’t get a shot off as he bobbled the ball under pressure. Just two minutes later a deflection off a Palace corner led to a 3-on-2 Arsenal break as Ozil worked with Alexis Sanchez, but the Chilean – making his first start of the season – was also victim of a bad touch and saw his shot rejected off the line.

The Gunners seized control and pummeled Alex McCarthy’s goal early, and finally got a reward after 16 minutes. Giroud made up for his earlier mistake by producing a stunning volley on a cross from Ozil.

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Palace immediately looked stunned, but never let up and equalized 12 minutes later. Yannick Bolasie found James McArthur inside the top of the box, and the midfielder touched back for Joel Ward who ripped the ball inside the far post from distance.

Giroud nearly had another stunner but his little backheel flick past the 35-minute mark was well saved by McCarthy. Francis Coquelin gave the Gunners a scare when he picked up a booking in the 41st minute and could have had another just four minutes later but the referee let him off after chopping down Wilfried Zaha.

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Straight after halftime it was the home side with the bright start and the first chance as Connor Wickham hit the post from a tight angle. Despite Palace’s rejuvinated intentions, Arsenal retook the lead on 54 minutes. Sanchez rose high above Joel Ward to get a powerful header on towards the far post, and Damien Delaney’s futile attempt to block ensured the ball struck the back of the net.

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As time ticked down, Palace threw players forward in a whirlwind finish, but it would not amount to a second equalizer. The Gunners grab their first points of the season, while Palace are pegged back despite a positive performance against a quality side.