THIERRY Henry’s farewell to English league football had a sting in the tale for Sunderland – the Arsenal goalscoring legend snatching all three points for his team with a 90th minute winner, writes Graeme Anderson
It was hard on Martin O’Neill’s men, who were worthy of a point and might have got it had they not been out on their feet physically in the closing stages in the wake of their extra-time exertions at Middlesbrough in the FA Cup in midweek.
Arsenal had the better of possession in the first half, but their game lacked its usual fluency and Sunderland looked dangerous on the counter-attack, having two calls for penalties denied by referee Neil Swarbrick.
The second half saw the game open up and Sunderland produced two great efforts from goal – both from the boot of Craig Gardner, which were parried by Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny diving at full stretch.
Sunderland took the lead in the 70th minute when James McClean took advantage of a slip by defender Per Mertesacker and rifled an unstoppable shot across the Arsenal keeper from a narrow angle.
But Arsenal pulled a goal back through a fortuitous goal from substitute Aaron Ramsey half-a-dozen minutes later with a shot which hit one post, rolled to the other post and then into the net as Sunderland tired.
And in the last minute of normal time, sub Andrey Arshavin put in a great cross from the left which eluded John O’Shea and Henry was in the right place to steer the ball across Simon Mignolet with his thigh.
Read Graeme Anderson’s full match report, plus photos and all the reaction to Sunderland’s cruel defeat, in Monday’s Gazette