Arsenal comes back in 2nd half to beat Everton 2-1

Arsenal comes back in 2nd half to beat Everton 2-1

Published Feb. 1, 2011 11:20 p.m. ET

Laurent Koscielny headed a second-half winner as Arsenal scored twice in six minutes to beat Everton 2-1 on Tuesday and keep the Gunners firmly in the Premier League title race.

Everton striker Louis Saha opened the scoring in the 24th minute with a contentious goal, after Seamus Coleman threaded a ball behind Arsenal's defense.

TV replays indicated that Saha was standing at least a meter offside before he supplied the finish. However, the goal was allowed to stand as the ball had come off Koscielny as the defender tried to clear, before it reached Saha.

Both managers said the goal was offside.


''It's the wrong decision, but it wasn't Everton who made the decision,'' Everton manager David Moyes said.

Referee Lee Mason was at the center of several controversial decisions throughout the match, and Moyes accused Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas of using unacceptable language toward the match officials while in the tunnel at half time.

''Fabregas' comments to the officials coming down the tunnel warranted a sending off,'' Moyes said. ''I'm not going to repeat what they were. Disappointing comments from someone who's such a talented footballer.

''If he had said it on the pitch, he would have been off like that,'' Moyes said, snapping his fingers.

Two goals in the space of six minutes turned the game around for the home side.

Andrei Arshavin equalized in the 70th when Fabregas floated a ball toward the area. Everton midfielder Jack Rodwell's backheader landed in the path of the Russian and he fired past Tim Howard.

Koscielny supplied the winner in the 76th after being left unmarked when Robin van Persie whipped in a corner, with the center back rising above the Everton defense to head past Howard.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said his team was flat in the first half, lacking its usual precision passing.

''We were not sharp until Everton scored,'' Wenger said. ''It was more a victory of a team with a fantastic spirit and a never-die-attitude. I'm very happy because this is maybe the aspect of the team that has been questioned the most.''

Rodwell nearly scored an equalizer in the 83rd, but his header from a corner flashed just wide of the far post.

The openings stages of the first half lacked rhythm, but Arsenal was starting to gain a foothold in the match right before Saha's goal. Arsenal nearly scored in the 16th when Van Persie's clever back heel while running away from goal inside the area found Fabregas, but the captain shot wide.

Theo Walcott was through on goal in the 22nd, but his shot from close range was saved by Howard with his feet.

Arsenal began the second half with more a cutting edge; Tomas Rosicky, Van Persie and Abou Diaby all coming close. But with the finishing lacking precision, Everton appeared to be on the brink of its first away win against Arsenal since a 2-1 victory at Highbury in 1996.

Arshavin and Koscielny changed that to send Everton to only its second defeat since November.

Arsenal remains in second place, five points behind Manchester United, after the leaders beat Aston Villa 3-1.

Wenger revealed more injury problems for Arsenal - Samir Nasri will be out for three weeks with a hamstring problem picked up Sunday against Huddersfield. Alex Song was substituted Tuesday at halftime after being kicked by Koscielny, with Wenger saying ''he can't walk'' and Walcott picked up an ankle injury.