Premier League – Bendtner spares Arsenal’s blushes
Eurosport – Sat, 01 Mar 17:22:00 2008
Arsenal looked to be about to relinquish top spot in the Premier League after Swiss central defender Philippe Senderos turned Gabriel Agbonlahor‘s cross from the left into his own net after 27 minutes.
But the young Danish substitute stroked home from close range with virtually the last kick of the match to keep the Gunners a point ahead of Manchester United.
Martin O’Neill’s side were happy to hit the Gunners on the break and had signalled their intent after 13 minutes when Agbonlahor was sent clean through on goal only for William Gallas to makes a captain’s tackle to save his team just as the young striker was about to pull the trigger.
The same pair were involved for the goal when Agbonlahor took on the French defender down the left channel and his centre hit the unfortunate Senderos and nestled in the net leaving Almunia with no chance.
Almunia also had to make a vital save to push Shaun Maloney‘s 20-yard piledriver onto the crossbar just before the break as the visitors threatened to extend their lead.
They had been thankful to Scott Carson who made a fine early save to deny Theo Walcott. The England keeper dived full length to his right to palm away a 15-yard drive after Curtis Davies was easily turned on the edge of the penalty area.
Senderos and Cesc Fabregas had also spurned decent first-half chances as they failed to hit the target from close range and, despite the loss of Davies and Nigel Reo-Coker with early injuries, Villa were largely composed.
Within 25 seconds of the restart, Walcott stung Carson’s palms with a fierce shot from the right channel.
The disappointing Alexander Hleb and Mathieu Flamini failed to hit the target with long-range efforts before the hosts were almost hit on the break again as Ashley Young‘s stinging drive, which was destined for the bottom corner, was pushed around the post by Almunia.
Clichy and Hleb had tested Carson while Bendtner and Adebayor had headed over but Villa were looking good value for the victory which would have boosted their own Champions League ambitions.
Sub Marlon Harewood was posing real problems and Almunia had save a fierce drive with his knee after Senderos was turned by the sub before Flamini and Adebayor again failed to test Carson when well placed.
However in the fourth minute of injury time, Clichy’s deep cross was headed back across goal by Adebayor and the young Dane was left unmarked five yards out to stroke home a vital equaliser.