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Injury-time Fabregas goal earns Arsenal a point
October 04, 2008 22:24 IST
A rare header by Cesc Fabregas in injury time earned Arsenal [Images] a 1-1 draw at Sunderland on Saturday after the home side had seemed on course for an upset win when they took the lead in the 86th minute.
Sunderland sat back and defended for most of the match then stunned Arsene Wenger's team when substitute Grant Leadbitter lashed the ball home from 25 metres.
There was also late drama at Wigan Athletic where Jeremie Aliadiere gave Middlesbrough the points in the 89th minute with the only goal, while West Bromwich Albion beat Fulham 1-0 with a Roman Bednar goal in the only other afternoon kickoff.
Champions Manchester United [Images] were at Blackburn Rovers later on Saturday while Chelsea and Liverpool play on Sunday at home to Aston Villa and away to Manchester City respectively.
A week ago Arsenal were upset 2-1 at home by Hull City but roared back to beat Porto 4-0 in the Champions League with a performance Wenger said was their most complete of the season.
But the Frenchman was left shaking his head in frustration for long spells on Saturday as they were too easily kept at arm's length by a Sunderland team intent on playing for a point despite being at home.
Arsenal were denied a goal early in the second half when Robin van Persie turned in a Theo Walcott cross only for the linesman to rule that the ball had gone out of play.
Sunderland keeper Craig Gordon, hardly tested all afternoon, then produced a good save to deny Van Persie eight minutes from time before the home fans really had something to shout about.
Leadbitter, who entered the fray as an 84th-minute substitute, took two minutes to make his mark when he lashed in a shot via the underside of the bar.
Arsenal poured forward in search of an equaliser and in stoppage time levelled with an unlikely goal when midfielder Fabregas rose well to head in Van Persie's corner.
"It's frustrating. Sunderland didn't come out, they didn't try to play but they defended very well," Wenger told Sky Sports.
"We had a goal cancelled, then were 1-0 down from one of their rare shots.
"We had a good attitude but it wasn't an open football game. I expected them to play more going forward, but they were very, very defensive.
"That tells you a lot about the team and about Cesc as a man, he refuses to lose. Heading is not his strength but he scored with a good header."
Sunderland boss Roy Keane defended his tactics. "The temptation for me is to have a go but you look at Arsenal's last few away games, particularly on the break...," he said.
"I thought we were outstanding, we had a lot of discipline and had to do a lot of defending."
Keane was pleased for Sunderland-raised Leadbitter. "It's nice to see a local lad coming through and making an impact. He's a top lad, a great pro and we're all delighted for him."
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