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Henry keeps Arsenal in reckoning

April 23, 2006 13:09 IST

Thierry Henry came off the bench to salvage a 1-1 draw for Arsenal against Tottenham Hotspur in a highly-charged final north London derby at their Highbury stadium on Saturday.

The Frenchman, one of several first choice players left out of the starting line-up by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, produced a sublime 83rd-minute finish to cancel out Robbie Keane's controversial opener for Tottenham.

Tottenham, who remain four points above Arsenal in fourth place and on course to claim the final Champions League qualification berth, ended with 10 men after Edgar Davids was shown a red card.

With leaders Chelsea playing an FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool later on Saturday, the other meaningful league action involved the three clubs fighting to avoid relegation.

Portsmouth moved out of the relegation zone when a late penalty from Matthew Taylor gave them a 2-1 victory over already doomed Sunderland. They swapped places with Birmingham City who could only draw 0-0 at Everton.

West Bromwich Albion look certain to join Sunderland after a 3-0 defeat at Newcastle United left them six points from safety.

ON THE BENCH

Wenger's decision to leave Henry, Cesc Fabregas and Emmanuel Eboue on the bench with an eye on Tuesday's Champions League semi-final against Villarreal looked to have backfired.

Tottenham dominated the first half, with Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon and Michael Carrick all wasting chances to give Martin Jol's impressive side the lead.

Defoe smashed one effort into the face of Arsenal keeper Jens Lehmann, while Carrick shot into the side-netting seconds before halftime after dribbling around Lehmann.

An entertaining encounter exploded into controversy after 65 minutes when Keane's close-range finish from Davids's cross provoked a furious touchline exchange between Wenger and Jol.

Wenger was upset that Carrick did not kick the ball into touch when Arsenal players Gilberto and Emmanuel Eboue lay grounded after they clattered into each other. Instead Carrick played in Davids who picked out the unmarked Keane to score his 16th goal of the season.

"It was a shame," a clearly angry Wenger told Sky Sports. "There was a hesitation by Carrick when he saw two players down. They said they did not see it from the (Spurs) bench; to lie about that I find very disappointing."

Jol, whose side will finish fourth if they win their last two matches of the season against Bolton Wanderers at home and West Ham United away, preferred to concentrate on their first-half performance.

"For me there was no problem (with the goal)," said Dutchman Jol. "Wenger was pretty upset about it. But we deserved something out of this game because in the first half we had three or four chances, even Arsenal fans would agree with me."

HENRY MAGIC

Arsenal improved after the introductions of Henry, Cesc Fabregas and Eboue, although it took a piece of sublime Henry magic to deny Tottenham a first win at Highbury since 1993.

Emmanuel Adebayor shrugged off Paul Staltieri's challenge and slotted a pass to Henry who finished instantaneously past Paul Robinson with the outside of his right foot.

In a frantic finale Davids was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Fabregas, but Spurs hung on.

Portsmouth are favourites to survive at the bottom after coming from behind to beat Sunderland, but West Brom manager Bryan Robson seemed resigned to his side's fate after a pitiful defeat at Newcastle.

"We didn't compete and we didn't pass the ball," said Robson. "I could have taken all 11 off at halftime."

Portsmouth have 35 points with two games remaining, Birmingham are on 33 and West Brom 29.

Newcastle remain in seventh place to maintain their UEFA Cup hopes, although Bolton Wanderers are just two points behind them with a game in hand after beating Charlton Athletic 4-1.

Source:
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