Bendtner denies Everton
Nicklas Bendtner struck late against Everton to keep the battle for fifth place and Uefa Cup football alive.
By James Dall
Last Updated: 04/05/08 3:52pm
Nicklas Bendtner struck late for Arsenal against Everton at Emirates Stadium to keep the battle for fifth place and Uefa Cup football alive.
The Toffees looked set for the draw that would have cemented fifth position and European football next season only for Bendtner to head home on 77 minutes.
The encounter lacked tempo and purpose for large periods, with Andrew Johnson and Emmanuel Adebayor both spurning decent chances in the first half.
David Moyes' side restricted The Gunners' creativity and seemed to be on their way to claiming a vital point, only for Bendtner to meet substitute Armand Traore's cross with a thumping header to seal the victory for the home side.
A second-placed finish still remains a possibility for Arsenal, while Everton must now avoid defeat in their final game of the campaign against Newcastle United to claim European football.
It had been a bright start by the Gunners, with Theo Walcott looking lively down the left.
After five minutes, Kolo Toure's cross from the right was just too high for Bendtner, as Tim Howard collected in the six-yard box.
Walcott, in the 14th minute, exchanged passes with Bendtner on the edge of the penalty area and then tried to curl a shot into the far corner, but was off target.
Blues boss Moyes was left fuming in the technical area when referee Alan Wiley decided Johnson had not been tripped by Arsenal captain William Gallas as the pair chased a ball into the corner.
Bendtner then picked out Gilberto with a diagonal pass into the left side of the Everton penalty area, but the Brazilian was stretching and could not guide his header on target.
Suddenly Johnson latched onto a ball over the top from Manuel Fernandes and was away into the right side of the Arsenal box.
Young Polish goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski stood up well to make the save with his legs, before Alex Song hooked the rebound from Steven Pienaar away.
Arsenal responded with leading scorer Adebayor played into the Everton penalty area, but, guarded by a couple of defenders, his low show shot was saved by Howard.
Emmanuel Eboue's shot across goal was blocked as Arsenal continued to press before Denilson's deep cross picked out Gilberto at the back of the area, but his header flew over.
In stoppage-time, Eboue sent over a curling centre from the right, which was just ahead of Adebayor, who glanced the ball wide.
The hosts also made good progress at the start of the second half as Everton struggled to get out of their own area.
However, despite their dominance, the home side again failed to find a decisive pass to open up the defence which allowed the visitors to regroup.
There was a warning at the other end, after 58 minutes, when Lescott made space for himself on the right and sent over a low cross which flew through the Arsenal six-yard box.
Leon Osman had a 20-yard effort blocked by Gallas during what was a good spell for Everton.
Arsenal made a double change with 22 minutes left, as Traore replaced Toure and veteran goalkeeper Lehmann - signed from Borussia Dortmund in July 2003 and out of contract this summer - was given his chance to say goodbye to the Arsenal fans who gave he 38-year-old German a rousing reception.
The home side went in search of a winner and took a deserved lead through a powerful header from Bendtner on 77 minutes following a fine left-wing cross by Traore.
Arsenal pressed for a second, but failed to make the most of some decent build-up.
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|2||Shots on Target||4|
|9||Shots off Target||4|