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Football
Five-star Arsenal beat Spurs
Gunners fight back to beat north London rivals Tottenham as Giggs salvages a United win in the English Premier League.
Last Modified: 26 Feb 2012 17:40
Spurs looked like they were going to heap misery on Arsenal in the early stages of the game, but the result - inspired by a brace from Walcott, above, keeps Arsenal in touch with European qualifying [GETTY]

Arsenal staged a magnificent fightback to thrash Tottenham 5-2 in the north London derby on Sunday as Manchester United scrambled a last-gasp 2-1 win over Norwich.

Arsenal appeared to be hurtling towards a disastrous home defeat after an early Louis Saha strike and an Emmanuel Adebayor penalty fired Spurs into a 2-0 lead at the Emirates.

But two goals in three minutes from Bacary Sagna and captain Robin van Persie made it 2-2 before Arsenal cut loose in the second half with Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott (2) completing a remarkable transformation.

At Carrow Road, Ryan Giggs - playing in his 900th game for United - struck in the 90th minute to clinch a precious victory for Sir Alex Ferguson's side which saw them reduce Manchester City's lead at the top of the English Premier League to two points.

Resurgence

Arsenal's win eased the pressure on beleaguered Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, whose side were still reeling from a heavy European Champions League defeat to AC Milan and a FA Cup exit at Sunderland.

The Gunners' victory also denied Tottenham their first season double over Arsenal for 19 years, and moved Arsenal back into the Champions League qualification places ahead of Chelsea.

"It was a performance full of everything you want from your team," said Wenger.

"It had team spirit, technique, resilience. It was an exciting game, we had a difficult start but kept going and showed great character again today.

"When you're 2-0 down against a team in front of you with the quality they have, you need something exceptional. We refused to lose today, we kept going and in the end I think we had too much quality and drive. "

- Arsene Wenger

"When you're 2-0 down against a team in front of you with the quality they have, you need something exceptional. We refused to lose today, we kept going and in the end I think we had too much quality and drive."

Arsenal got off to the worst possible start when Saha fired Tottenham ahead after only four minutes.

Adebayor picked out Saha in acres of space near the Arsenal area, and as the home defence dithered the Frenchman was given time to get his shot off and it looped into the net after a deflection.

Arsenal regrouped well after that disastrous setback but instead it was Spurs who struck next as Gareth Bale's pace tormented the home defence.

Luka Modric found the Welshman flying into the box and the midfielder was brought down by the combined efforts of goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and Kieran Gibbs for a penalty.

Former Arsenal striker Adebayor stepped up to place his kick beyond Szczesny and Spurs were suddenly eyeing a crushing victory.

Magical minutes

Yet the game was transformed in three remarkable minutes shortly before half-time which saw Arsenal claw their way back to 2-2.

Sagna pulled the first goal back with a well directed looping header from Mikel Arteta's cross on 40 minutes.

Three minutes later captain van Persie equalised with a sublime individual effort, carving out space for himself on the edge of the Tottenham area before curling beyond Brad Friedel for 2-2.

Tottenham boss Redknapp moved to stiffen his midfield at half-time, replacing Saha with Sandro and introducing Rafael van der Vaart in place of Niko Kranjcar.

But the changes were unable to halt Arsenal's momentum, and a sweeping move ended with Rosicky making it 3-2 with a dinked finish on 51 minutes.

With Tottenham reeling, Arsenal maintained the onslaught and Walcott - barracked mercilessly by the home supporters earlier in the game - made it 4-2 on the counter-attack in the 65th minute.

The England midfielder then bagged his second on 68 minutes as the rout continued.

Tottenham's misery was complete when Scott Parker was sent off in the closing stages for a second yellow card.

In Sunday's other early kick-off, Manchester United closed the gap on City after Giggs scored to clinch a 2-1 win over Norwich.

Grant Holt had pounced for Norwich on 83 minutes to cancel out Paul Scholes' seventh-minute opener at Carrow Road.

But Giggs stole in to save United at the death in a remarkable finale for Sir Alex Ferguson's men.

In Sunday's other Premier League game, Stoke defeated Swansea 2-0 at the Britannia Stadium.

Source:
AFP
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