Alexis Sanchez hits hat-trick for Arsenal as Leicester suffer reality check
Published 26/09/2015 | 17:20
Alexis Sanchez's hat-trick saw Arsenal close the gap at the top of the Barclays Premier League after they came from behind at Leicester.
The deadly Chilean struck a classy treble as the Gunners moved to within three points of leaders Manchester United thanks to their 5-2 victory.
They also ended the Foxes' unbeaten start to the season after Theo Walcott had cancelled out Jamie Vardy's opener.
Vardy - who struck the woodwork twice during a breakneck opening - also bagged a late consolation before Olivier Giroud grabbed Arsenal's fifth.
The Gunners almost took the lead after six minutes when Walcott was slipped through.
The pass forced him wide but he still crossed for Santi Cazorla whose shot was hacked off the line by Ritchie De Laet.
It spurred the Foxes into action and they were denied twice in quick succession four minutes later when Petr Cech turned Jeff Schlupp's drive away before the ball eventually came to Vardy who hit the base of the post.
But the England striker ruthlessly took his second chance on 13 minutes.
Arsenal's muted calls for a penalty after Aaron Ramsey went down in the box were ignored and the ball fell to Danny Drinkwater.
He spotted Vardy sprinting clear on the left and launched the ball to the 28-year-old who cut inside and curled a clinical finish past Cech.
Vardy epitomised fearless Leicester and came close to a second four minutes later when his miscued header came back off the bar.
But the hosts were then hit by a sucker punch as Arsenal immediately broke and levelled on 18 minutes.
Cazorla was given room in the middle to find Walcott and the forward outpaced De Laet to roll the ball in off the post.
It had been a counter-attacking masterclass from both sides and Arsenal ruthlessly demonstrated their threat again on 33 minutes.
Hector Bellerin and Walcott broke and, eventually, Sanchez, who scored in the 1-1 draw at the King Power Stadium last season, struck beyond Kasper Schmeichel.
Ranieri was left ranging though after Shinji Okazaki appeared to be fouled in the build up.
Leicester were rocked for the first time and Cazorla shot wide before De Laet's fine tackle halted Walcott.
Predictably the visitors slowed the game down but emerged from the break sharper and Sanchez made it 3-1 after 57 minutes.
The Foxes had not recovered from the Chilean's first goal and he again underlined his quality when he ended a neat move by nodding in Mesut Ozil's hanging ball from six yards.
De Laet's late block denied Ozil as the hosts began to wilt and the game was over with nine minutes left.
The Foxes were asleep when Sanchez collected the ball from a throw in, advanced and his low effort flew past Schmeichel from 25 yards.
Leicester's response, unsurprisingly, came through Vardy and he grabbed his sixth of the season when he curled in after Cech had denied Andrej Kramaric with two minutes left.
But Arsenal had the last word when Giroud converted Nacho Monreal's cross from 10 yards in injury time.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
"@piersmorgan: FT 2-5. Superb win, magnificent performance, Sanchez sensational. #afc" - Television personality Piers Morgan was delighted to see the Chilean return to form
Kasper Schmeichel: 7
Ritchie De Laet: 6
Wes Morgan: 6
Robert Huth: 7
Jeff Schlupp: 6
Riyad Mahrez: 6
Danny Drinkwater: 7
N'Golo Kante: 6
Marc Albrighton: 6
Shinji Okazaki: 6
Jamie Vardy: 7
Andy King: 6
Leonardo Ulloa: 6
Andrej Kramaric: 6
Petr Cech: 7
Hector Bellerin: 7
Laurent Koscielny: 7
Per Mertesacker: 7
Nacho Monreal: 7
Mathieu Flamini: 5
Aaron Ramsey: 7
Santi Cazorla: 7
Mesut Ozil: 7
Theo Walcott: 8
Mikel Arteta: 7
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 6
Olivier Giroud: 6
Alexis Sanchez: Before the game the Arsenal forward had yet to score this season but was clinical in rescuing the Gunners at Leicester. His first two goals put the visitors in control after they fell behind and looked too open to Leicester's counter-attacks.
A lethal third put the game beyond doubt as he scored his first Gunners goals since the FA Cup final. Arsenal relied on his 25 goals so much last season it was vital the Chile international finally got up and running this year.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH:
Jamie Vardy had caused Arsenal serious problems in a frantic opening and came close to doubling Leicester's lead on 17 minutes. The striker's header looped onto the bar with Petr Cech beaten but, within 60 seconds, the Gunners were level. Riyad Mahrez lost possession in Arsenal's box allowing them to break and Santi Cazorla fed Theo Walcott to equalise. With Leicester's momentum it would have been hard to see the visitors fighting back from 2-0 down.
MOAN OF THE MATCH:
Leicester will be disappointed to lose their unbeaten start in the Barclays Premier League this season as they were ruthlessly dispatched by Arsenal. It was the Foxes' first game with one of last season's top four and while they gave Arsenal a scare they could not match their quality. The host played their part in an entertaining game, especially Jamie Vardy, and should not be despondent but it may have tempered the enthusiasm at the King Power Stadium.
VIEW FROM THE BENCH
Both managers would have been concerned at how open their sides were inside the first 30 minutes. But once Arsenal took the lead through Alexis Sanchez the visitors' superior quality paid off and Arsene Wenger would have been pleased with how his side then shut the Foxes down. Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri has overseen a fine start to his reign at the King Power Stadium but will not be too disheartened after losing their unbeaten run.
WHO'S UP NEXT?
Norwich v Leicester (Premier League, Saturday, October 3)
Arsenal v Olympiakos (Champions League, Tuesday September 29)