Van Persie scores on Emirates return
Published 28/04/2013 | 18:26
Robin van Persie earned a point for Barclays Premier League champions Manchester United in a 1-1 draw on his return to Arsenal.
The former Gunners captain received the expected hot reception as soon as he stepped out at the Emirates Stadium for a guard of honour, which was impeccably observed by the Arsenal team to mark United's achievements in marching to a 20th championship.
It was, though, Arsenal - without suspended forward Olivier Giroud - who raced into the lead as Theo Walcott beat the offside trap to fire the hosts ahead inside two minutes. However, despite enduring plenty of jeers from the home support as passions continued to run high in the wake of his controversial £24million move to Old Trafford last summer, Van Persie kept his cool to equalise from the spot just before half-time after being brought down by Bacary Sagna.
A chorus of boos greeted Van Persie as he emerged from the tunnel at the end of the United line. Those jeers, however, were soon replaced by raucous celebration as Walcott swept the hosts ahead.
Van Persie lost possession on the half-way line, and Arsenal countered quickly as the ball was worked up field to Tomas Rosicky, whose released Walcott down the right.
The England forward was at best in line with United full-back Patrice Evra, but needed no second invitation as he raced on into the penalty area before slotting under David De Gea.
United would have levelled on 38 minutes but for a superb reaction save from Wojciech Szczesny. Nani broke quickly down the left and crossed into the six-yard box, where Van Persie sent his point-blank bullet header goalwards. Somehow, though, Szczesny spread-eagled himself to take the full force of the ball square in his face.
The equaliser eventually came on 44 minutes after Sagna inexplicably gave the ball away to Van Persie, who sprinted on into the area. The France full-back recovered ground, but then slid in to trip his former team-mate, and Dowd immediately pointed to the spot. After some theatrics from Szczesny, Van Persie kept cool to fire the ball into the right corner - before turning away with no celebration.
Arsenal started the second half with some purpose, as Rosicky's curled effort flew just wide. United, though, always looked to have another gear, as Van Persie scampered away down the left before cutting a low cross back through the Gunners' six-yard box. Rafael then lifted an angled drive over the bar from 20 yards before Rooney's downward header was gathered by the Arsenal keeper at the second attempt.
Late on De Gea turned away a low, 20-yard strike from Carzola, before United substitute Ryan Giggs had a curling effort deflected behind following a quick counter and both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils.
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