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Match Report


Posted Sun 24 Apr 11 at 20:11 PM

Report: Wanderers 2 Arsenal 1

Wanderers responded from their FA Cup semi-final defeat in the best possible fashion by beating title-chasing Arsenal 2-1 in front of full house at the Reebok Stadium.

The masses who turned out for the Easter Sunday encounter were treated to an enthralling game of football, which was decided in Bolton's favour by a last minute header from substitute Tamir Cohen.

The Israeli international struck the decisive third goal of the game after Arsenal had pegged back level after half-time through Robin van Persie.

Wanderers had powered into a one-goal lead at the break when Daniel Sturridge nodded in from close-range.

Kevin Davies saw a penalty saved just seconds before the Gunners grabbed their equaliser, and although it looked like Szczesny's save would prove costly, Wanderers battled through to the very end to get their just rewards and also their fifth successive home victory.

Bolton 2 Arsenal 1

Ahead of kick-off, Owen Coyle shuffled his pack from the line-up at Wembley. Out went Martin Petrov and Ivan Klasnic and in came Matt Taylor and Daniel Sturridge.

The players were greeted not only by glorious sunshine on arrival but also a bumper crowd of just under 27,000 fans as the Bolton public turned out in their numbers on Easter Sunday to back their team.

It was Arsenal that carved out the first chance of the game with five minutes on the clock. Theo Walcott, using pace to the maximum, escaped down the right touchline and delivered a threatening cross which Jussi Jaaskelainen did well to parry to safety.

Indeed, Walcott was the major concern to Wanderers during the early stages and, in the visitors next attack, the England winger teed up Cesc Fabregas with another blistering foray down the touchline. However the Arsenal skipper could only loft his finish well over the crossbar from the edge of the box.

With 15 minutes played, Fabregas showed better quality in front of goal as he brought a superb low save out of Jaaskelainen. When play opened up on the edge of the Bolton box, the Spanish World Cup winner tried his luck from 25 yards, but Jaaskelainen was alert, turning the ball behind for a corner with a spralling dive to his right.

The Gunners had looked the team in the ascendancy during the first 20 minutes, but having dug deep and defended well in the opening exchanges, Bolton began to offer much more as the half progressed.

Kevin Davies was unfortunate to see his near post finish directed narrowly wide of the post following Gretar Steinsson's right-winged cross, while Chung-Yong went for the unselfish option having been sent clear with Sturridge's precise slide-rule pass.

Taylor fired at Szczesny after Koscielny had scuffed his clearance, while Arsenal's Polish stopper once again had to earn his corn when Chung-Yong stabbed towards goal from six yards out.

At this point a Bolton goal looked likely and it duly arrived seven minutes before the break through Sturridge.

Chung-Yong's corner had been met perfectly by Gary Cahill ten yards out. The central defender's header looked destined for the corner of the net up until Koscielny's goal-line clearance, however Sturridge was preying and he nodded the rebound past
Szczesny to send the Reebok into raptures.

The lead would have lasted for just five minutes had the woodwork not come to Bolton's rescue just before the end of the first half. Again the creator was Arsenal's most likely source, Cesc Fabregas, as he saw a 18-yard effort bounce back of Jaaskelainen's right-hand post.

Loud cheers greeted the half-time whistle, but there were even louder ones at the start of the second half when, just a minute in, Sturridge was sent crashing to the turf inside the area by Johan Djourou.

Referee Mike Jones had no hesitation in awarding a penalty kick and the fans were back up off their seats as they sensed a second Bolton goal . However, Kevin Davies wasn't able to make the most of the opportunity from 12 yards out as Szczesny dived to his right to palm the ball to safety.

And, in cruel fashion, just one minute after the spot-kick, Arsenal found themselves back on level terms through a Robin van Persie equaliser on 49 minutes.

The Dutchman, drifting in from the right, played a one-two with Fabregas on the edge of the area before finding space to drill through a crowd of defenders and beat Jaaskelainen's valiant dive.

Despite the apparent double blow, Wanderers soldiered on in the search a goal to restore their lead, while Arsene Wenger knew that nothing other than a winner for his team would be enough to keep them on heels of Manchester United in the search for the Premier League trophy.

The Arsenal boss sacrificed midfielder Alex Song for Maraoune Chamakh and the result was a very open last half hour of the game.

Van Persie dragged a shot a wide having found space down the left channel, but Samir Nasri had the golden opportunity to make it 2-1 to the Gunners 18 minutes before the end.

The French forward was sent clear by Wilshere, however Jaaskelainen and Cahill came to the rescue, with the Finnish goalkeeper making a superb block and the England centre-half clearing the rebound.

Although Arsenal had carved out the bulk of the chances in the second half, Wanderers were very much still in the game with the score at 1-1.

Owen Coyle knew this and two substitutions helped to swing the game in Bolton's favour - albeit one was enforced.

Mark Davies replaced Fabrice Muamba to help shore up the midfield and Tamir Cohen was thrust into the action five minutes before the final whistle when Daniel Sturridge rolled his ankle, with Elmander reverting to his more natural role as a centre-forward.

The decision to thrust Cohen into the action by Bolton boss came up trumps as it was none other than the Israeli midfielder who notched the decisive third goal of the game just two minutes before full-time - and it all stemmed from a lung-bursting run forward from Elmander.

Szczesny turned the Swede's effort behind for a corner, and from Chung-Yong's delivery, Cohen towered to plant the ball into the back of the net with a well-timed near-post header.

Minutes later and the crowd erupted at the sound of referee Mike Jones' final whistle. Bolton had got their return for digging deep and withstanding the second half pressure from their London opponents, with the Gunners joining a list containing the likes of Tottenham, Aston Villa, Everton and Newcastle United to fall victim at fortress Reebok this season.

Wanderers: Jaaskelainen, Robinson, Cahill, Knight, Steinsson, Taylor, Elmander (Klasnic 90), Muamba (Mark Davies 70), Chung-Yong, Kevin Davies, Sturridge (Cohen 84) (Subs not used: Bogdan, Wheater, Rodrigo, Petrov)

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Fabregas, Koscielny, Nasri, Van Persie, Walcott (Arshavin 73), Song (Chamakh 65), Wilshere (Ramsey 85), Djourou, Clichy (Subs not used: Lehmann, Squillaci, Gibbs , Eboue)

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