Arsenal held to draw by 10-man Fulham after Palhinha strike

Arsenal’s quest for the provisional top spot in the Premier League was foiled on Saturday as they were held to a 2-2 draw at home by 10-man Fulham. A late goal by the visitors managed to even the score, preventing Mikel Arteta’s team from securing the leading position.

This outcome leaves the Gunners in second place with a total of seven points, narrowly trailing behind their north London rivals, Tottenham Hotspur. The ranking is determined by goal difference, further intensifying the competition at the top of the league.

In a whirlwind match, Andreas Pereira swiftly put Fulham in the lead within the opening minute. However, Arsenal rallied back, notching two goals in a frantic span of two minutes during the second half, courtesy of Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah.

Fulham faced adversity when Calvin Bassey received his marching orders with a second yellow card in the 83rd minute. Despite being reduced to 10 players, they managed to rescue a valuable point. João Palhinha capitalized on a corner, sweeping the ball into the net to level the score.

Reflecting on the game, Palhinha shared his thoughts with the BBC, stating, “Regrettably, we didn’t secure a win, but I believe it’s a commendable result. Confronting Arsenal is consistently challenging. We came with the intention to secure a victory, yet the true triumph lay in the unwavering determination we exhibited until the closing moments, even with a numerical disadvantage.”

He continued, “The final 10 minutes were indeed demanding. I positioned myself in the defensive line, and we exerted ourselves to the fullest to safeguard our positions, ultimately leading to this positive outcome.”

Fulham’s early strike occurred when Pereira seized an opportunity from a misdirected pass by Saka. The midfielder capitalized on goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale’s position far from the goal, launching a strike from nearly 30 meters that found the back of the net, silencing the home crowd.

Saka, spurred by the error, emerged as a driving force for Arsenal. He orchestrated multiple scoring opportunities in the first half, including a clever free-kick deflected for a corner and a close-range header miss. The redemption came as Saka confidently converted a penalty, earned when Fabio Vieira was brought down by Kenny Tete in the box, equalizing the score amid pouring rain at the 70-minute mark.

With spirits reinvigorated, Arsenal completed their comeback a mere two minutes later. Exploiting an opening in Fulham’s territory, Vieira delivered a pinpoint cross, promptly met by substitute Nketiah’s precise strike into the net.

Fulham faced further adversity when Bassey’s deliberate foul on Nketiah halted a potential counter-attack, leading to his expulsion. Nevertheless, in the 87th minute, Marco Silva’s determined squad managed to restore parity.

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