London, March 15 -
A match which remained thrilling to the end, saw Arsenal emerge victorious, by 2 goals to 1, against their north London rivals.
The decisive goal in this entertaining and incident-packed game came from a controversial penalty and a furious Tottenham Hotspur manager, Jose Mourinho said: “I don’t want to call it a penalty because it’s an offence to the penalty. That was a mistake by Oliver (referee). Players get tired, coaches get tired, may be referees get tired, too.”
He added: “My record with Michael Oliver on penalties is astonishing. With Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham, it doesn’t matter the club, I am very, very unlucky with such a good referee.” He was also critical of his team’s performance. “To be honest and pragmatic, the first half was their half. We played really bad. No intensity or pressing. Defending bad, we were poor. Some important players were hiding. Really bad. The second half — Michael Oliver and Paul Tierney (VAR) decided the game.”
Despite Arsenal being dominant almost throughout the first half, Spurs took the lead in the 33rd minute. It came from an amazing shot — a ‘Rabona’ (the name for the shot given originally in South America) — by Eric Lamela who had come on as a substitute for the injured Heung-min Son. The ball came to Lamela from Lucas Moura after Sergio Reguilon had volleyed a cross into the box and Lamela placed his magical shot low and curling into the bottom corner with his left leg wrapped around his standing right leg. Reguilon held his head in disbelief.
Gunners missed chances to equalise when Emile Smith Rowe and Cedric Soares struck the post. But a minute before halftime Kieran Tierney pulled back a pass to Martin Odegaard to score with a deflection from Toby Alderweireld. Spurs lifted their game in the second half despite playing with ten men from the 76th minute after Lamela was shown the red card for a foul on Thomas Partey.
It was in the 64th minute that the Gunners got the winning goal with the debatable spot kick. Nicolas Pepe played the ball into the box and Lacazette ran to it but missed his shot while Davinson Sanchez in attempting to tackle, brought down Lacazette — after the ball had gone. The Arsenal man took the awarded penalty and put it in low and well out of Hugo Lloris’ reach.
Gunners manager, Mikel Arteta, who had made a much talked about decision to omit his star striker, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for disciplinary reason and include Lacazette, said: “We have a way of living together. We have to respect each other. He was going to start the game, we had a disciplinary issue, we have drawn the line and we move on.”
He added: “We deal with the situation on the day. That’s been done. We know how important Auba is to us and he will continue to be really important.”