Tor­reira’s late win­ner moves Arse­nal into third

Kuwait Times - - Sports -

LON­DON: Lu­cas Tor­reira rode to Arse­nal’s res­cue as the Uruguayan’s im­pres­sive start to life as a Gun­ner con­tin­ued with an over­head kick win­ner seven min­utes from time to beat an ob­du­rate Hud­der­s­field 1-0 at the Emi­rates.

Tor­reira hooked home a Pierre-Em­er­ick Aubameyang cross from close-range, yet the im­age that will en­dure of a feisty con­test that saw Arse­nal stretch their un­beaten run to 21 games will be of three of their play­ers col­lect­ing yel­low cards for sim­u­la­tion.

Granit Xhaka, Shko­dran Mustafi and Mat­teo Guen­douzi were all booked by ref­eree Paul Tier­ney for fling­ing them­selves to the ground. Mustafi and Guen­douzi were try­ing to fool the ref­eree into awarding a des­per­ate home side a penalty, while Xhaka was sim­ply try­ing to earn his side a free-kick un­justly in the mid­dle of the pitch.

That des­per­a­tion to make the break­through summed up a frus­trat­ing af­ter­noon for Unai Emery’s men un­til Tor­reira’s late in­ter­ven­tion. Emery again demon­strated a ruth­less streak as af­ter an­other fit­ful first-half dis­play from his side, he made a dou­ble sub­sti­tu­tion at half-time.

His in­tro­duc­tion of Hen­rikh Mkhi­taryan and Alex Iwobi trig­gered an Arse­nal per­for­mance that was more cen­tred on a de­ter­mi­na­tion to at­tack rather than to be­come em­broiled in trad­ing tack­les, as they had in the first half.

The de­sire of the Hud­der­s­field play­ers not to give their Arse­nal coun­ter­parts a mo­ment to dwell on the ball in mid­field earned them the wrath of the Emi­rates crowd and no doubt in­flu­enced ref­eree Tier­ney to cau­tion Alex Pritchard, Danny Wil­liams and Tommy Smith all within eight min­utes of each other. Xhaka, one of five Arse­nal play­ers to see yel­low, was at least re­spon­si­ble for the game’s open­ing chance af­ter 28 min­utes. His in­tel­li­gent ball to the near post ought to have been con­verted by Aubameyang. Yet, in­stead of meet­ing the ball with his right foot, the striker tried to use his left but could only stab the ball wide.

If that was a bad miss, Aubameyang was out­done by Alexan­dre La­cazette 60 sec­onds later. The French­man was found all alone in­side the area by Guen­douzi. He dal­lied too long and then slipped, scoop­ing the ball em­bar­rass­ingly over the bar from 12 yards.

Two min­utes be­fore half-time, Pritchard ought to have given Hud­der­s­field the lead, swiv­el­ling to strike a Smith cross high and wide. Fi­nally the match was liven­ing up and at the other end Tor­reira saw his curl­ing ef­fort from out­side the area bril­liantly palmed away for a cor­ner by Hud­der­s­field keeper Jonas Lossl.

While the sec­ond half wasn’t re­plete with chances, Mkhi­taryan sent a low ef­fort just wide within two min­utes of his in­tro­duc­tion, while Iwobi drove Arse­nal for­ward con­stantly as they searched for the de­ci­sive goal.

Emery will have de­fen­sive prob­lems to deal with over the fes­tive pe­riod as Mustafi limped off just af­ter the hour with an ap­par­ent ham­string in­jury, adding to the long-term ab­sence of Rob Hold­ing due to a cru­ci­ate knee lig­a­ment in­jury suf­fered in mid­week.

How­ever, the Span­ish coach at least had an­other three points to con­sole him when Tor­reira fur­thered his case as a cult hero among the Arse­nal sup­port with a spec­tac­u­lar fin­ish to move the Gun­ners above Tot­ten­ham into third in the Pre­mier League. — AFP

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