Fulham’s late winner rocks Arsenal
Written By: Robert Halter
Thomas Vermaelen scored for both sides in the 1-1 draw between Fulham and Arsenal at the Emirates stadium and at the start of 2012, the Whites and Gunners met again at Craven Cottage as Arsenal faced West London opposition for the second consecutive match. On seven minutes, Gervinho blazed over a Robin Van Persie corner, after being unmarked at the left post and Gervinho then had a claim for a penalty turned away after being challenged by Philippe Senderos in the area. The Cottagers responded when Mousa Dembele interlinked with Bobby Zamora on ten minutes but the Whites striker drove his shot straight into Wojciech Szczesny. After a foul by Francis Coquelin on Bobby Zamora, a Danny Murphy free kick was fired in on fourteen minutes but Brede Hangeland put his header over. But it was Arsenal who took the lead on twenty minutes when Aaron Ramsey’s cross had a wicked deflection off Stephen Kelly before the ball found Laurent Koscielny, who sent a header past David Stockdale’s despairing dive to give the Gunners a 1-0 lead. Although, Stockdale produced two remarkable saves to keep Fulham in the game two minutes later, first keeping out Ramsey’s low drive and then turning Alex Song’s follow up shot against the foot of the right post, as the ball was put accross the face of the goal from the advancing Gervinho. After a darting run, Bryan Ruiz produced a curling strike that went wide of the right post as Fulham went back on the attack. Then Arsenal responded when from a Coquelin cross, Van Persie’s shot was plucked out the air by Stockdale. Just before the break, Ramsey tried a shot from range but Stockdale grasped his effort. The Cottagers started the second half with intent when a comfortable stop from Szczesny kept out a shot from Ruiz. A dipping strike from Steve Sidwell at long range went close for Fulham after Murphy’s quickly taken free kick in the fifty eighth minute, after Song’s challenge on Clint Dempsey had been penalised. Four minutes later, Senderos put a header over the bar from Murphy’s free kick, after Johan Djourou had been cautioned for a challenge on Dembele. The Whites missed another headed chance, this time Dempsey being unable to find the target off Ruiz’s cross in the sixty fifth minute. The outstretched legs of Szczesny prevented the Cottagers a certain equaliser on seventy minutes, as Ruiz drove his shot straight at the Gunners goalkeeper in the penalty box. The game swung in Fulham’s favour three minutes later when Arsenal were reduced to ten men as Djourou received a second caution for colliding into Zamora, just outside the area. The Whites persistence finally paid off in the eighty fourth minute as Szczesny was caught out flapping at a Ruiz corner, and Senderos headed the ball over to Sidwell, who from close range put his header past Mikel Arteta on the line, to grab an equaliser. But in dramatic fashion and in a final twist to the match, Fulham got a second goal in the last minute of stoppage time, when from a Kelly cross, Sebastian Squillaci’s miss placed header proved costly for the Gunners as Zamora volleyed the ball into the right side of the net to win all three points for the Cottagers and leave Arsenal in a state of despair.