Alexis Sánchez 98th-minute panenka penalty beats Burnley
Sánchez took responsibility with a flourish as he dinked ball straight down the middle
Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez chips in his late penalty at The Emirates Stadium. Photograph: PA
Arsenal 2 Burnley 1
With the pack chasing Chelsea dropping points all around them this weekend, a win – any win – would have been welcomed by Arsenal but a victory of this theatrically charged fashion sent the Emirates crowd into a rare frenzy.
Humdrum, run of the mill, this wasn’t.
Much of the most captivating drama was condensed into the seven minutes of stoppage time. Until then Arsenal had been leading Burnley, protecting a narrow lead with 10 men after Granit Xhaka’s sending off. The mood lurched one way as Burnley were awarded a penalty by referee Jon Moss.
Petr Cech made contact with his hand but not strongly enough as Andre Gray equalised. Burnley’s players were overjoyed. Arsenal’s felt the fear. Arsène Wenger was sent from the dugout for taking his emotions out on the fourth official.
Extraordinarily, the mood lurched again in the final seconds of stoppage time as Ben Mee caught Laurent Koscielny in the face with a high foot.
Another penalty. Alexis Sánchez took the responsibility with a flourish as he dinked the ball straight down the middle. At the end of it all Arsenal showed the character to take on some adversity and come out of it sitting second in the Premier League.
Arsenal’s dominance in the opening period suggested they were in the mood to rev up quickly and get a quick foothold in the game. A flurry of chances threatened the Burnley goal just before the quarter hour mark. Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez took aim with early headers.
Tom Heaton was called into action to tip away a low curling Mesut Ozil shot. Alex Iwobi’s fizzing drive was deflected. Laurent Koscielny headed straight at the visiting keeper.
But once the moment for the early goal passed, Burnley settled down and began to plug the holes. Getting bodies in the way, keeping a more reslient shape, took some sting out of Arsenal’s forward momentum. For all the glitz of Aaron Ramsey’s rabona cross, Olivier Giroud’s attempted overhead or Mesut Özil’s deft flick, Burney kept diligently picking up the pieces.
What’s more, once that platform was set, they began to find room to forge a few counterattacks, with the willingness of Gray and Ashley Barnes to spring forwards keeping Arsenal on their toes.
Cech had to parry from each of them before half time, and Koscielny was at his composed best to stop Gray in his speedy tracks after the Burnley striker charged down Shkodran Mustafi to win possession and hared down the pitch. Just before half-time Cech had to come out bravely to be first in a race with Gray to get to George Boyd’s teasing cross.
Özil and Sánchez were at the heart of yet more chances for Arsenal. Ramsey tried a di rigeur scorpion kick but hooked too high. The Chilean struck a sweet shot that fizzed just over the bar shortly after half time as the search went on for a breakthrough.
Burnley’s resistence was broken from a set piece, as Mustafi expertly steered Özil’s corner at the inside netting of the far post. It was a fine header – the German’s first goal for the club since signing last summer from Valencia.
A relatively comfortable situation suddenly became awkward when Granit Xhaka was sent off in the 64th minute for a clumsy tackle on Steven Defour.
Having lost the ball the Swiss midfielder tried to win it back but the challenge was late and with feet off the ground. Xhaka will be banned for four games, having already been sent off this season (by the same referee incidentally) against Swansea in October.
Burnley stepped up a gear. Defour tested Cech with a free kick. Marney raised the temperature with a hefty scissor challenge to stop Özil on the break. Sanchez was back in his own box making emergency clearances. On came Joey Barton and Sam Vokes to try to turn the screw.
Arsenal found respite and Francis Coquelin and Danny Welbeck threatened the killer second just before the end of regulation time. They had to handle seven minutes of stoppage time, with Burnley hoiking big balls into the box whenever they could. That yielded the first of the late penalties as Coquelin chopped at Barnes.
The Burnley attacker thought he had supplied the coup de grace, but it was Sánchez who delivered the final devastating swipe.