Arsene Wenger's blushes spared as Arsenal's late rally sinks Hull City

17 January 2009 07:36
Late goals from Samir Nasri and substitute Nicklas Bendtner spared Arsenal's blushes at the KC Stadium to maintain Arsene Wenger's hopes of Champions League qualification and leave Hull City fearing an immediate return to the Championship.

Any hopes Arsenal had of challenging for the Premier League title looked to have been extinguished at the KC Stadium courtesy of Daniel Cousin's second half header.

Arsenal had been cruising to a crucial victory following Emmanuel Adebayor's opening goal in the 30th minute, his 12th of the season.

Arsene Wenger knows all about Hull's resilience, however and was promptly handed a painful reminder when Cousin drifted between Kolo Toure and Johan Djourou with 25 minutes remaining to convert Bernard Mendy's cross and restore parity.

Wenger must be sick of the sight of Cousin, who scored the winning goal at the Emirates in September.

Wenger had the last laugh on this occasion, however, courtesy of interventions from Nasri and then Bendtner and Hull's resistance was eventually broken.

The hosts handed a debut to new signing Kevin Kilbane following his arrival from Wigan, while Manchester United forward Manucho had to settle for a place on the bench after joining the Tigers on-loan until the end of the season.

Arsenal counterpart Wenger, meanwhile, named an unchanged side, resisting the temptation to promote Bendtner despite his winning strike against Bolton last weekend.

The Gunners were still without William Gallas and Cesc Fabregas, yet remained determined to gain revenge for their humbling at the hands of the same opponents earlier in the season, one of the lowest moments of Wenger's time in charge.

It was Hull who made the brightest start, however. Geovanni's corner flashed across Manuel Almunia's goal in the first minute before Nathan Doyle shot straight at the Arsenal goalkeeper.

Geovanni almost caught Almunia unawares with a curling free kick in the 19th minute but when Wenger's side began to get a grip on proceedings the signs looked ominous for Hull.

Van Persie's deflected free kick shaved the Hull upright before the Dutchman went even closer in the 28th minute, demanding a world class save from Myhill with a blistering free kick which the Hull goalkeeper somehow managed to tip onto the crossbar.

Two minutes later the breakthrough eventually came when Adebayor rose majestically above Michael Turner to head Van Persie's corner back across goal and into the open net.

His goal was harsh on the home team yet rewarded Arsenal's growing dominance of a game they simply had to win. Such an outcome never looked in serious doubt, that was until Cousin beat Almunia to place the emphasis on Arsenal to provide the finish Wenger so desperately needed.

Source: Telegraph