Sunday 25 March 2018

Cottagers rally for thrilling point

Olivier Giroud scored a brace but Arsenal could only draw against Fulham
Olivier Giroud scored a brace but Arsenal could only draw against Fulham

Arsenal blew a two-goal lead for the second time in a week as Fulham battled to a 3-3 draw at Emirates Stadium, where Mark Schwarzer saved a penalty in stoppage-time.

The Gunners were in control after early goals from Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski but Fulham rallied after Dimitar Berbatov reduced the deficit and Alex Kacaniklic levelled before half-time.

The visitors then went ahead from the penalty spot when Berbatov slotted home after Mikel Arteta had fouled Brian Ruiz and although Giroud quickly levelled at 3-3, the Gunners could not find a winner - but were then awarded a penalty in stoppage-time for handball, only for Fulham keeper Schwarzer to produce a brilliant stop from Arteta's low effort.

The Gunners went ahead in the 11 minute when Theo Walcott delivered a corner into the six-yard box, where Giroud powered in his second headed goal of the week and they doubled their lead in the 23rd minute.

Arteta drove into the right side of the penalty area and pulled a low cross back through the six-yard box, where Podolski got ahead of his marker to stab the ball past Schwarzer.

Fulham, though, halved the deficit after 28 minutes when Berbatov nodded home with a free header from a corner.

It was no real surprise to see Fulham level five minutes before the break. Berbatov strolled down the right channel and effortlessly floated a lovely ball back over to Kacaniklic, who dispatched a header into the bottom corner past the diving Vito Mannone.

Fulham went ahead for the first time when Ruiz robbed Arteta on the right side of the penalty area and was pulled back by the Spaniard and Phil Dowd pointed to the spot. Berbatov confidently sent Mannone the wrong way to turn the match on its head after 67 minutes.

The lead didn't last long as Giroud's shot came back off the post and Walcott send the rebound into the six-yard box, where the France striker guided a cushioned header over Schwarzer to make it 3-3.

There was more drama in stoppage time when Arshavin's cross hit Sascha Riether on the arm and Dowd pointed to the spot but Schwarzer produced a brilliant save at full stretch to deny Arteta.

Press Association

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