Sunday, May 22, 2011

Arsenal forced to qualify for Champions League

Arsenal's season of frustration ended with a 2-2 draw at 10-man Fulham, which will leave the Gunners having to qualify for the Champions League.

Steve Sidwell swept the hosts in front after 26 minutes, only for Robin van Persie to quickly equalise.

However, Bobby Zamora nodded in just before the hour with Zoltan Gera shown a straight red card two minutes after coming on, but a late goal from Theo Walcott earned Arsenal a point as they finished fourth behind FA Cup winners Manchester City.

Fulham took the lead when Arsenal defender Johan Djourou played Zamora onside as the England striker scampered away down the right before cutting the ball back to Sidwell, who drilled home from six yards.

The lead, though, did not last long. Abou Diaby won the ball in midfield, before playing a neat one-two with Marouane Chamakh to release Van Persie on the edge of the Fulham area.

The Dutchman killed the pass with his first touch before dispatching a low strike into the bottom left corner to level on 29 minutes.

In the second half, Mark Schwarzer denied Arsenal with a fine save as he turned Samir Nasri's goalbound free-kick over the crossbar.

Fulham were back in the lead after 57 minutes when Jonathan Greening darted into the left side of the Arsenal box, before chipping the ball across goal where Zamora nodded in at the near post.

With 20 minutes left, Zamora, appearing to be carrying an injury, was replaced by Gera, who looks set to leave at the end of his contract this summer.

The Hungarian was shown a straight red card on 74 minutes after a lunging two-footed challenge on Thomas Vermaelen. And Walcott levelled in the final minute when his shot went in off the far post.


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