Soccer-Arsenal seal thrilling comeback win, Man City maintain chase

March 05, 2023 11:10 AM AEDT | By Reuters
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) -Arsenal staged a thrilling comeback to beat Bournemouth 3-2 and preserve their five-point cushion in the title race, after champions Manchester City turned up the heat earlier on Saturday by beating Newcastle United.

City's 2-0 win earlier in the day sliced Arsenal's advantage to two points, and when the leaders trailed 2-0 against relegation-threatened Bournemouth with an hour gone in north London it appeared their hold on top spot was weakening.

But goals from Thomas Partey and substitutes Ben White and Reiss Nelson -- Nelson's arriving in the seventh minute of stoppage time -- sparked wild scenes of celebration.

Chelsea eased some of the pressure on manager Graham Potter as a second-half header from France defender Wesley Fofana earned them a nervy 1-0 home win against Leeds United -- their first victory since Jan. 15.

Fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur's top-four ambitions suffered a dent as they went down 1-0 at Wolverhampton Wanderers, who are gradually pulling clear of the relegation zone.

Brighton & Hove Albion, meanwhile, boosted their own hopes of qualifying for Europe as they thrashed struggling West Ham United 4-0 to stay in eighth place but with games on hand of all the teams above them.

Mid-table Aston Villa beat Crystal Palace 1-0.

Arsenal had not won a Premier League game in which they had trailed by at least two goals since 2012, so the omens looked bad for the Gunners as they were rocked by Bournemouth.

The visitors needed only 9.1 seconds to take the lead when Philip Billing scored with a close range finish after an audacious move straight from the kickoff. It was the second-quickest goal in Premier League history behind Shane Long's 7.69 seconds effort for Southampton against Watford in 2019.

Marcos Senesi rose unmarked to head in a second for his side just before the hour mark, but that provoked a furious Arsenal response with Thomas Partey prodding a shot past Bournemouth keeper Neto within minutes.

Eight minutes after that, White's volley crossed the line despite Neto's desperate dive. But Bournemouth appeared to be holding on for a point as the game went deep into stoppage time.

Pandemonium then broke out as the ball fell to Nelson from a corner and he sent a left-foot thunderbolt into the corner of the net to seal an unlikely victory which moved Arsenal to 63 points from 26 games, ahead of City on 58.

"Everybody is overwhelmed a bit. It was madness from the first minute of the game where we defended so poorly and then you have to climb a mountain," a still-buzzing Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta told reporters.

Unlucky Bournemouth ended the day bottom of the table on goal difference after Southampton beat Leicester City 1-0 in the late game thanks to a Carlos Alcaraz winner.

'TRICKY GAME'

There was no such drama at Manchester City with back-in-form Phil Foden scoring an early beauty before substitute Bernardo Silva wrapped up the points in the second half.

Foden, who had been sidelined earlier this season with a nagging foot injury, put City ahead in the 15th minute, weaving through four Newcastle defenders before angling a shot that glanced off defender Sven Botman and past keeper Nick Pope.

Newcastle, who have recorded just one win in their last eight league games, had some chances but Silva came off the bench in the 65th minute to score with a sharp finish from an Erling Haaland flick. The goal was City's 1,000th in the Premier League at home.

"We won the game, we didn't suffer much at the end -- an incredible result for us because it was a tricky game," City manager Pep Guardiola said.

Chelsea manager Potter may sleep a little easier after a much-needed three points.

"We were a team who had something to lose so it was great character from the players. They cared and showed togetherness in the team. It gives us something to build on," Potter, whose team remain in 10th position, said.

Tottenham had the chance to move seven points clear of fifth-placed Newcastle in the race for a top-four finish but suffered a second defeat of the week after tumbling out of the FA Cup at Sheffield United.

Adama Traore struck late on to floor Tottenham who were twice denied by the woodwork.

"Maybe we have to have more of the killer instinct to kill the game when you have the possibility to do it," Tottenham's stand-in manager Cristian Stellini said.

Tottenham remain fourth with 45 points but have played two games more than Newcastle (41) and Liverpool (39) who face third-placed Manchester United on Sunday.

At the bottom Bournemouth, Southampton and Everton all have 21 points, with Leeds on 22 and West Ham on 23.

(Reporting by Martyn HermanEditing by Christian Radnedge and Hugh Lawson)


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