Arsenal holds Fulham to 1-1 draw with 97th minute equaliser

Eddie Nketiah scored Arsenal's equalizer
Eddie Nketiah scored Arsenal's equalizer

Relegation threatened Fulham were denied a first ever win at Arsenal by Eddie Nkletiah’s 97th minute equaliser.

Scott Parker thought he was going to celebrate his 100th game as Fulham boss with a fabulous famous victory.

But he was cruelly robbed deep into stoppage time when sub Nketiah prodded the ball over the line after keeper Mat Ryan had come up to flick on a last-gasp corner.

The visitors had snatched an unlikely 59th minute lead through Josh Maja’s penalty but are now five points adrift of safety and having played more games than all of the teams above them.

Arsenal could have been ahead in the first minute when Gabriel Martinelli beat Fulham keeper Alphonse Areola in a race to Alexandre Lacazette’s through ball, but the teenager’s attempted lob dropped just the wrong side of the far post.

Areola was back in action six minutes later, plunging to his left to keep out Martinelli’s close range effort following good work by Emile Smith Rowe.

But having weathered that early storm the visitors almost snatched a shock 20th minute lead when Maja’s shot took a deflection off Rob Holding and rolled agonisingly wide of the post with Arsenal keeper Ryan wrong-footed.

Aussie international Ryan was making his Emirates debut for Arsenal after manager Mikel Arteta made the surprise decision to give Bernd Leno the day off.

And with Nicolas Pepe, Thomas Partey and Pablo Mari also rested in spite of a host of key injuries, it was not hard to conclude that Arteta thought this one was going to be pretty routine.

Yet that proved to be anything but the case as Fulham competed for every ball and worked their socks off to keep Arsenal at bay.

It looked as though the visitors’ resolve had finally been broken when Dani Ceballos sent a looping header over Areola from Hector Bellerin’s 40th minute cross.

But VAR Stuart Attwell ruled that Bukayo Saka’s big toe was marginally offside in the build-up and the goal was ruled out, much to Parker’s relief.

Arsenal had the ball in the net again just before half-time but this time VAR was not required for linesman Scott Ledger to spot that Smith Rowe was offside.

And their frustration was completed 12 minutes after the restart when Mario Lemina was sent flying in the area by Gabriel’s wild attempted clearance.

Parker could hardly look as Maja stepped up to the spot but he need not have worried as the on-loan striker slammed his penalty into the roof of the net.

And Arteta’s day took another turn for the worse when top scorer Lacazette limped off with a hamstring strain which could not have come at a worse time for the Gunners.

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