Sports Desk, Apr 23 (EFE).- A spectacular mistake by Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno proved to be all Everton needed to beat the Gunners 0-1 Friday and move to within striking distance of the Premier League’s European slots.
For the hosts, the result raises the stakes still higher ahead of next Thursday’s Europa League semifinal first leg against Villarreal.
Now ninth in the table with 46 points from 33 matches, Arsenal’s best chance of being in Europe next season lies in winning the Europa League.
While the Toffees move up to eighth on 52 points, just a point behind sixth-place Tottenham Hotspur.
In the absence of the injured Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexander Lacazette, Real Madrid loanee Dani Ceballos set the pace for Mikel Arteta’s side.
But though Arsenal dominated possession, the visitors had the better chances in the first half.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin came close in the 14th minute and Richarlison forced a stop from Leno at the half-hour mark before the Arsenal keeper needed the cross-bar to deny Gylfi Sigurdsson on a free kick with five minutes left in the half.
A potential turning point came in the 53rd minute when the referee pointed to the penalty spot after an encounter in the box between Ceballos and Richarlison ended with the Arsenal player on the ground.
But a VAR review determined that the Gunners’ Nicolas Pepe was offside before the contact took place, so instead of an Arsenal penalty, it was a free kick for Everton as Arteta fumed.
Calum Chambers put the ball in the side netting on a chance for Arsenal in the 59th minute. Five minutes later, he watched his strike hit the ground and bounce over the cross-bar.
Ceballos tested Everton keeper Jordan Pickford in the 68th minute.
Inside the last 15 minutes, Leno badly misplayed a ball from Richarlison on an Everton counter and the hosts went behind 0-1.
Late sub Gabriel Martinelli created an opportunity for the equalizer in stoppage time, but Pickford was able to sweep the ball away from the onrushing Bukayo Saka and the Toffees held on for their first away win over Arsenal in 25 years.
Emirates Stadium remained closed to fans due to Covid-19 restrictions, yet an estimated 2,000 raucous Arsenal supporters gathered outside ahead of the match to voice demands that billionaire owner Stan Kroenke sell the Gunners.
Never much beloved among the “Gooners,” as the team’s most devoted fans are known, the United States-based sports mogul is facing a wave of outrage over his decision to have Arsenal join a proposed European Super League.
Announced last Sunday, the project collapsed within 48 hours as one after one, the six Premier League clubs that signed on – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur – withdrew from the plan amid the overwhelmingly negative response from not only fans, pundits and politicians, but from players and coaches of the participating teams.
Josh Kroenke, son of Stan and an Arsenal director, has acknowledged that joining the Super League was a mistake, while insisting that Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, whose other properties include the NFL Los Angeles Rams, has no intention of selling the Premier League club. EFE