A quick glance at the headline suggests that Arsenal coasted to an easy 2-0 home win Saturday at The Emirates. The truth is that the three points weren’t in the bag for Arsenal until Alexis Sanchez completed his brace with a penalty in stoppage time.
After consecutive losses in the premier League, Arsenal moved into third place for the moment — nine points behind Chelsea, which visits Burnley on Sunday.
Hull City continued its strong recent play under manager Marco Silva, but ultimately the Tigers fell victim to a bit of bad luck and a controversial goal from Sanchez in the 34th minute.
LUCKY BOUNCE!!! Alexis Sanchez pounces on a ball in the box to give Arsenal a 1-0 lead vs. Hull. #PLonNBC pic.twitter.com/KbIav7nZSs
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) February 11, 2017
Whether it was hand to ball or ball to hand, Mark Clattenburg — after a conference with his linesman — allowed the goal to stand, and the Gunners had the lead.
According to Hull fullback Andrew Robertson, the referee apologized to the Hull players at halftime, admitting he shouldn’t have given the goal.
“I’m sorry, but I can not influence that,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. “I didn’t see it as well from the stands. … I believe first in the players. Every season, you have some problems or difficulties. It’s always the way you respond to them (that matters).”
As the minutes ticked by, Hull turned up the pressure and Arsenal, much to the chagrin of their fans, seemed content to soak it up.
In the 91st minute, Arsenal got the insurance goal. The Gunners caught the Tigers with too many men forward. Hull keeper Eldin Jakupovic came out of the box to cut off Sanchez, who crossed to Lucas Perez.
Perez sent a header towards the open net, and Sam Clucas handled the ball to keep it out. That drew a red card, and the penalty that Sanchez converted into the second goal.
Red card for Clucas #AFCvHCFC 1-0 pic.twitter.com/LLnL5veCZ1
— Lind/a/gung (@agsapt) February 11, 2017
“I’m happy with our reaction and our second half,” Silva said. “Of course, the result is not good for us. But now we have time to prepare and time to work before the next game.”
Arsenal visits Bayern Munich in a Champions League Round of 16 clash Wednesday, while Hull City, which is still mired in the drop zone, returns to action on Feb. 25 at home against Burnley.