Premier League round-up

Image: Fabregas: Crucial goal for Gunners

Cesc Fabregas rescued Arsenal a point at Sunderland, while Manchester United were excellent at Blackburn.

Arsenal need late, late leveller; while United cruise at Ewood

Cesc Fabregas rescued Arsenal a point at Sunderland as he scored a last-gasp header at the Stadium of Light, while Manchester United were back to their free-flowing best at Blackburn. West Brom came out victorious over Fulham at The Hawthorns, while Middlesbrough claimed a last minute win at Wigan. Sunderland looked set to heap more misery on Arsenal following their Hull humbling last week, as Black Cats substitute Grant Leadbitter stepped off the bench to give his side a lead with just four minutes left on the clock, only for Fabregas to save Arsene Wenger's blushes. United were always in control at Blackburn as goals in each half from Wes Brown and Wayne Rooney earned a well deserved three-point haul. On their travels to the North West, Middlesbrough rode their luck for long spells at The JJB but silenced the home faithful in the last minute when Jeremie Aliadiere found a cool finish from Stewart Downing's clever lay-off. At The Hawthorns, Roman Bednar ensured the majority in attendance went home happy as his scruffy winner saw off Fulham.


Roy Keane has made some inspired substitutions during his short time in management to date but none more so than his decision to replace Dwight Yorke with Leadbitter with just four minutes left on the clock. The young Sunderland midfielder took possession just seconds after entering the field and made inroads on Arsenal's back four, before firing an unstoppable shot from the edge of the box that crashed off the bar and beyond Manuel Almunia. The Black Cats were eyeing a sensational win but had to make do with a point, as Gordon raced off his line at an Arsenal corner, only for Fabregas to sneak in front of the Scot and grab his side a share of the spoils. Genuine goalmouth excitement was at a premium as Robin van Persie was guilty of squandering a great chance, as he allowed Gordon to parry his strike when clear eight yards from goal in the second half. It was the Dutchman who earlier in the second period had rued an eagle-eyed linesman, as he ruled Theo Walcott had taken the ball out before pulling the back for his team-mate - who slotted past Gordon.
Rooney class
At Ewood Park, it was a case of master triumphing over pupil as Sir Alex Ferguson's United side gave Blackburn a lesson in possession football as they cruised to a 2-0 win. Paul Ince was left fuming over what he perceived to be a foul on his goalkeeper for Brown's first half opener, but could have no complaints over Rooney's sumptuous second goal on the counter-attack. United substitute Carlos Tevez hit the post late on as the champions had their North West counterparts chasing shadows in the rain.
A compact and in-form Wigan were the side that always looked more likely at The JJB, although a lack of a killer pass saw Middlesbrough restrict them to the occasional half chance, prior to Aliadiere's late intervention. Amr Zaki was looking to add to his impressive tally of five Premier League goals but the big Egyptian found Boro goalkeeper Ross Turnbull equal to his best effort, as a searing drive from Emile Heskey's lay-off was tipped wide on the stretch. A draw looked almost certain as the game drew to its close, only for Downing to head into the path of Aliadiere, who showed composure to beat Kirkland with a crisp low finish. West Brom striker Bednar was responsible for some wayward finishing as Tony Mowbray's side failed to turn sustained periods of possession into goals against Fulham, but credit must go to the Czech's unstinting persistence as he scored a crucial winner. Just before half-time it was Bednar who lashed wildly over when well placed to test Mark Schwarzer, before an advanced Ryan Donk saw his header come back off the post from Jonathan Greening's clipped delivery. Bednar's goal just past the hour mark was fitting for a game that will admittedly not live long in the memory. A jubilant Baggies faithful will care not one iota though, as Fulham's inability to clear a corner eventually concluded with Bednar stabbing home from no more than a couple of yards. Fulham struggled to find anything like the rhythm to their passing they had previously demonstrated and while Danny Murphy went close with a clever free-kick, Roy Hodgson's side were never anything other than second best on their trip to the Midlands.

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