Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool foil Arsenal's stirring comeback

Arsenal 3-3 Liverpool

By Nick Purewal

Liverpool fended off three goals in five minutes from Arsenal to salvage a 3-3 Premier League draw at the Emirates.

Roberto Firmino's strike looped home off Petr Cech's attempted save to ensure the Reds left London with a share of the spoils despite having earlier squandered a 2-0 lead.

Alexis Sanchez, Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil found the net in a stunning second-half triple salvo to put Arsenal 3-2 ahead having trailed to goals from Philippe Coutinho and Mohamed Salah.

Jurgen Klopp's visitors thought they had the game won at 2-0, then quickly feared leaving empty-handed after Ozil's finish - only to wind up clawing back for the draw.

Arsene Wenger criticised his Arsenal players for their display in the first half but praised the character they showed to come back after the break.

The Gunners manager said: "In the first half we were paralysed and frozen. We played too deep. We gave too many balls away and looked second best.

"In the second half we have shown quality, character and played at our level."

Arsenal defender Ainsley Maitland-Niles said: "English football has changed, there are a lot of counter-attacking teams now. I did okay, there are things to work on but I am getting there. We are not happy, we should have won. When you are ahead there is no reason to drop points."

Liverpool defender Andy Robertson added: "It was 90 minutes of two teams attacking at high speed. There were mistakes, but the tempo it was played at, the boys are still trying to get their breath back.

"You're most vulnerable when you score and that happened to us. They had an extra yard and we made mistakes. We got our composure back a little too late."

Liverpool lost Jordan Henderson to a hamstring injury that clearly tempered their relief at holding onto fourth place in the league table.

Arsenal could hardly have envisaged sneaking out of this clash with anything at all when trailing by two goals to a wholly-dominant Reds - but all that was before this gripping battle caught fire.

Liverpool pounced on Arsenal's malaise to dominate the first half to leave the Gunners supporters booing their troops.

Firmino headed just wide after Coutinho's cross, but Arsenal failed to heed that warning.

Salah's lofted chip let Coutinho open the scoring, the Brazilian heading home. Firmino almost doubled the lead when curling just over the bar, and then Cech denied Salah with a fine save from a one-on-one.

Arsenal's paltry attacking return was limited to the half's final meaningful effort as the unmarked Alexandre Lacazette failed to connect with a header.

Normal service resumed after the break, Arsenal conceding possession cheaply and Liverpool breaking at pace.

Salah made no mistake when sent through the middle by Firmino. The Egypt hitman fired home via a minor deflection off Shkodran Mustafi.

But Arsenal turned the encounter on its head. Sanchez headed in at the far post to halve the deficit, and when Simon Mignolet flapped and missed Xhaka's facile long-range effort, they were level.

The hosts stole the lead, Ozil trading passes with Lacazette, whose back heel allowed the German to apply a cool finish.

Arsenal's shambling defence proved their Achilles heel again, as Firmino blasted Liverpool level at 3-3, with the ball looping into the net despite Cech's attempt at a save.

Arsenal: Cech, Bellerín, Koscielny, Monreal (Mustafi 45), Maitland-Niles, Wilshere, Xhaka, Iwobi (Welbeck 78),

Ozil, Sanchez (Walcott 89), Lacazette.

Subs not used: Ospina, Kolasinac, Coquelin, El Neny.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Gomez, Lovren, Klavan, Robertson, Henderson (Milner 13), Can, Salah, Coutinho (Oxlade-Chamberlain 84), Mane (Wijnaldum 80), Firmino.

Subs not used: Karius, Lallana, Solanke, Alexander-Arnold.

Man of the match: Salah

Match rating: 9/10

Referee: Martin Atkinson

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