Belfast Telegraph

Gunners seal Champions League spot

Arsenal secured an automatic Champions League spot with a 3-2 victory over West Brom after being helped by a nightmare display from Baggies' stand-in goalkeeper Marton Fulop.

Fulop, who replaced the injured Ben Foster, was at fault for all three Gunners goals from Yossi Benayoun, Andre Santos and Laurent Koscielny as Arsene Wenger's side edged out Tottenham for third spot.

Albion had netted through Shane Long and Graham Dorrans after Benayoun's opener, but Fulop's horror show meant it was a losing end to new England head coach Roy Hodgson's reign.

Arsenal were the first to settle and a mistake by Fulop gifted Benayoun the opening goal after three minutes. Robin van Persie and James Morrison challenged for the ball in midfield and the ball ricocheted into the path of Fulop, but he appeared to stumble when under no pressure and Benayoun tapped the ball into an empty net.

Albion retaliated and Wojciech Szczesny produced a fine low save to keep out a shot on the turn from a narrow angle by Marc-Antoine Fortune.

After 11 minutes the fit-again Long brought the Baggies on level terms when he chased down a pass from Morrison and hammered a low shot past Szczesny.

Three minutes later an equally clinical finish from Dorrans put the Baggies in front. Morrison was again the creator and Dorrans gave Szczesny no chance of saving with a similar finish to that of Long.

After half an hour Santos brought the Gunners level. Fulop got a hand to his swerving left-footed drive from 20 yards out but could only parry it into the corner of the net.

Fulop's horror show continued when another mistake gifted Koscielny a goal after 54 minutes to restore Arsenal's lead. The former Sunderland goalkeeper punched a corner from Van Persie back towards his own goal and Koscielny made no mistake from four yards out.

Albion tried to recover and Szczesny reacted quickly to turn aside a shot on the turn from Keith Andrews.

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