Arsenal Keeps Champions League Hopes Alive With Boro Win

Arsenal's Mesut Özil celebrates scoring the team's second goal. (Reuters Photo/Scott Heppell)

By : Simon Evans | on 11:32 AM April 18, 2017
Category : Sports, Football

Middlesbrough. Arsenal kept alive its slim hopes of securing a Champions League spot next season with a 2-1 Premier League victory at Middlesbrough on Monday (17/04) that left the host in deep danger of relegation.

A superb Alexis Sanchez free kick put the Gunners ahead three minutes before the break but Spanish striker Alvaro Negredo brought Boro level four minutes after the interval.

German midfielder Mesut Özil grabbed a close-range winner for Arsenal in the 71st minute.

The result left Arsenal in sixth, seven points behind fourth-placed Manchester City, which has played one game more. Boro is second bottom, six points adrift of safety with six games left.

Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger made six changes to the team, which had lost in humiliating fashion 3-0 to Crystal Palace last week and switched to a 3-4-3 formation, a new approach for the Gunners.

"Sometimes when a team lacks confidence, changing the system helps the team to believe in something different," Wenger said.

A low-key first half ended with Arsenal getting ahead when Sanchez showed great technique as he lifted the ball over a long wall and past motionless Boro keeper Brad Guzan.

Boro responded positively, though, and its equalizer was perfectly executed, Stewart Downing racing down the right flank and delivering a pinpoint cross, which Negredo met with a side-foot finish after losing his marker Laurent Koscielny.

Middlesbrough went close to a second with a stooping Daniel Ayala header, which Arsenal keeper Petr Cech saved well, allowing his defense to scramble clear.

But Arsenal secured its first away win in five Premier League matches when Sanchez floated a ball into the box, which Aaron Ramsey cleverly chested down to Özil, who made no mistake from close range.

"I think we were focused and committed and you could see that we did not play with full confidence during some moments in the game," Wenger said.

"When you are in a lack of confidence situation it comes back slowly and only the results help," the Frenchman addded.

Arsenal faces Manchester City in the FA Cup semifinals on Sunday.


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