Lacazette’s last-gasp strike spares Gooners blushes in 2-2 draw at home to Eagles
By Alessandro Schiavone at the Emirates Stadium
Arsenal 2 v Crystal Palace 2
Arsenal and Crystal Palace played out a hard-fought 2-2 draw at the Emirates Stadium thanks to a last-gasp strike from substitute Alexandre Lacazette.
The Frenchman’s eye-catching cameo spared Arsenal’s blushes in the 95th minute and the Eagles will surely feel hard done by the stalemate, having largely outplayed and outfought their opponents and come so close to a famous win.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s tap-in gave the north Londoners the breakthrough after eight minutes before they became too conservative and backed off.
This played into Crystal Palace’s hands with Christian Benteke reducing the arrears after firing an angled strike past Vicente Guaita after the restart.
And the visitors’ turnaround was completed when Odsonne Edouard struck a ferocious effort in off the crossbar in the 73rd minute. But fatigue eventually crept in for Palace as Lacazette undid all of their hard work with the last touch of the game.
The Eagles have now scored nine of their 10 goals this season on their return from the dressing room as Arsenal's gap to the top-four keeps increasing.
The Gunners got off to a dream start and were up and running after only eight minutes thanks to Aubameyang’s sucker punch.
Nicolas Pepe recovered a seemingly lost ball following a corner before he played a quick one-two with Takehiro Tomiyasu who then slid the ball back into his path.
The former Lille star aimed for the top corner with a bending effort and Aubameyang was at the right place in the right moment to tap home Arsenal’s opener after Vicente Guaita deflected the Ivorian's effort into his path at the far post.
Jordan Ayew then almost played himself into trouble when he lost the ball but Bukayo Saka’s excellent pullback was spoiled by Emile Smith Rowe who flashed his effort straight at the goalkeeper.
In the 27th minute, Arsenal's new No 1 Aaron Ramsdale kept a Benteke effort out with a fine save.
In the final stages of the first period there was only one team on the pitch and it was not Arsenal who had become too passive and disjointed.
In the 34th minute Edouard fluffed his lines after a great cutback from Tyrick Mitchell as Palace were now in control.
On the stroke of half-time Ramsdale punched a corner straight to Conor Gallagher but redeemed himself with a flying save.
Palace were the much better side in the first half. They pushed Arsenal back thanks to some incisive play and carved out three decent chances but failed to score as they were very economical with their end product.
It became too easy for Palace between the lines as Patrick Vieira’s men overrun their opponents. And there was an air of inevitability about Palace’s equaliser. Their intensity and pressure were finally rewarded when Benteke levelled things up five minutes into the second half.
Ayew, whose mistake almost cost Palace in the first half, dispossessed Thomas Partey and the ball fell to Benteke’s feet. The Belgian surged past Gabriel, resisted a late, desperate challenge from Kieran Tierney to drill a low effort beyond Ramsdale.
Partey tried to take matters into his own hands and saw two efforts fizzle wide of the post. But that was all Arsenal had to offer as Ramsdale kept them on level terms after tipping a venomous Ayew strike over the bar.
On the balance of play, the high-pressing Eagles needed to be ahead and not level and so it didn’t take long for Vieira’s creative men to get their noses in front.
Guaita pulled off a spectacular one-handed save to smother Lacazette’s first-time strike before they rampaged forward in great style.
Substitute Michael Olise caught fellow substitute Albert Sambi Lokonga in possession before teeing up Edouard for what looked like a winner.
The former Celtic man’s potent effort cannoned off the crossbar and down into the goal.
Tierney was not so lucky in the 87th minute when he rattled the woodwork.
But just when the game was hurtling to a 2-1 home defeat for Arteta’s sluggish Arsenal, Lacazette was in the right spot to slot home the equaliser and deny Vieira a famous win on his first managerial return to the club which enhanced his reputation as a player.
A draw which undeniably feels like a loss for Palace, who are now unbeaten in their last four visits to the Emirates Stadium. During Vieira’s days in north London this fixture didn’t come along often enough as Palace spent more time outside of the Premier League than in it.
But on the rare occasions when it did, the Gunners tended to brush the Eagles outside.
How the mighty have fallen…
32 Aaron Ramsdale- 3 Kieran Tierney- 4 Benjamin White- 5 Thomas Partey- 6 Gabriel Magalhaes- 7 Bukayo Saka- 8 Martin Odegaard- 10 Emile Smith Rowe- 14 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang- 18 Takehiro Tomiyasu- 19 Nicolas Pepe
13 Vicente Guaita – 2 Joel Ward- 3 Tyrick Mitchell- 4 Luka Milivojevic- 6 Marc Guehi- 9 Jordan Ayew- 16 Joachim Anderson- 18 James McArthur- 20 Christian Benteke- 22 Odsonne Edouard- 23 Conor Gallagher