The Malta Independent 23 February 2024, Friday
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Rice scores late winner for Arsenal in 4-3 victory over Luton in Premier League

Associated Press Wednesday, 6 December 2023, 14:05 Last update: about 4 months ago

Declan Rice scored in the seventh minute of stoppage time to earn Premier League leader Arsenal a wild 4-3 win over Luton and spare the blushes of teammate David Raya on Tuesday.

Raya made errors that led to two goals for Luton, leaving Arsenal on the cusp of dropping two points at Kenilworth Road.

However, with the clock having run past the six allotted minutes of stoppage time, Rice got on the end of Martin Odegaard's cross and glanced a header into the bottom corner for a victory that lifted Arsenal five points clear of second-place Liverpool.

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“Those are the moments you look back on,” Rice said. "What a game — to score the winner is an honor.”

Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus scored either side of Gabriel Osho’s equalizer for Luton as Arsenal led 2-1 at halftime, with Mikel Arteta’s team going in search of a fourth straight victory in the Premier League and sixth in a row in all competitions.

Then came Raya's mistakes.

Firstly, the goalkeeper was beaten in the air at a corner by Elijah Adebayo, who powered in a header for an equalizer in the 49th minute.

Eight minutes later, Raya allowed a shot by Ross Barkley to go under his body as he dived to his left, giving next-to-last Luton — a promoted team likely to be battling relegation this season — an unexpected 3-2 advantage.

Kai Havertz equalized in the 60th minute goal and Rice completed the comeback after relentless pressure from Arsenal, which also scored late goals in 1-0 wins against Brentford (in the 89th minute) and Manchester City (86th minute) this season and twice in stoppage time to beat Manchester United 3-1.

“We find ways to win,” Arteta said.

Luton manager Rob Edwards said he was “immeasurably proud" of his players but “really flat.”

“I don’t think that has ever happened to me, conceding that late to lose a game,” he said.

“We have a belief in this group, I believe in this group and with the spirit and fight we are showing, we hope we can achieve something special.”

Raya’s blunders furthered concerns he might not be the long-term answer as Arsenal's goalkeeper after he took the place of Aaron Ramsdale this season following his offseason arrival from Brentford.

Arteta refused to talk about Raya, saying: “It’s part of the job, but I’m really happy with the team so let’s move on.”

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