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Arsenal’s quest for a return to Champions League football continued as they laboured to a 2-1 victory over 10-man Leeds with Eddie Nketiah’s brace sending the visitors into the Premier League relegation zone.

The clash at the Emirates Stadium was always going to have repercussions at both ends of the table and the result leaves the Gunners on the cusp of a top-four finish.

Nketiah, on loan at Leeds during the 2019-20 campaign, appeared to all-but seal the points in the opening 10 minutes before Luke Ayling was dismissed to add to the woes of Leeds head coach Jesse Marsch, whose side at least registered a goal through Diego Llorente.

Everton’s victory at Leicester saw Leeds drop into the bottom three at just the wrong time of the season, with Chelsea next up on Wednesday night.

For Arsenal, whose manager Mikel Arteta signed a new three-year deal on Friday, they now know victory at the home of north London rivals Tottenham on Thursday will ensure a first season of Champions League football for five years.

The hosts took the lead early on when Nketiah capitalised on a poor touch from Illan Meslier, closing down the goalkeeper and forcing the ball home.

Nketiah doubled the advantage with a well-taken finish from 12 yards as he turned home Gabriel Martinelli’s low cross having stood completely free inside the Leeds box.

Enjoying their football, Bukayo Saka picked up a delightful flick from Martin Odegaard but shot straight at Meslier.

Things went from bad to worse for Leeds as Ayling was sent off, the skipper seeing red for a two-footed lunge on Martinelli after referee Chris Kavanagh was advised by VAR to review the decision on the pitchside monitor.

Arsenal looked to make their numerical advantage pay, Odegaard forcing a good stop out of Meslier from a free-kick before Llorente hooked the loose ball off his own goal line.

Leeds traipsed off at the break having failed to register a shot on target in the opening 45 minutes – but Arsenal appeared to take their foot off the gas when the game resumed.

Meslier went largely untested during the opening minutes and Leeds struck with their first effort of the game as Llorente popped up at the back post to turn home Junior Firpo’s flick on from a corner.

The hosts toiled in their attempts to put the game to bed with a third goal, with Arteta turning to Nicolas Pepe and Emile Smith Rowe off the bench to freshen things up.

Leeds, though, remained a threat, Meslier coming forward for a late corner as tension grew around the Emirates.

He was back in the Arsenal box for a last-gasp free-kick which saw Rodrigo’s flick saved by Aaron Ramsdale, and the final whistle signalled a deep sigh of relief from the majority within the Emirates.

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Bukayo Saka banished his Euro 2020 final penalty shoot-out ghosts by converting a spot-kick as Arsenal toppled Chelsea 4-2 to reignite their bid for a top-four Premier League finish.

The England forward slotted home his first-ever penalty for Arsenal to seal the Gunners’ vital win over the Blues, that drew Mikel Arteta’s men level with fourth-placed Tottenham in the table.

Saka missed the last penalty in England’s 3-2 shoot-out defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley last July.

The 20-year-old won the late spot-kick at Stamford Bridge by drawing a foul from Cesar Azpilicueta, and quickly insisted on taking the penalty himself.

Saka dismissed any nerves by side-footing home to boot, to put the seal on a crucial win for the Gunners.

Eddie Nketiah had twice seized upon slipshod defending to drive Arsenal into a 3-2 lead before Saka’s strike.

Nketiah capitalised on Andreas Christensen’s woefully under-hit back-pass for his first Arsenal goal in 367 days, to open the scoring in west London.

The 22-year-old forward later settled a scrappy but engrossing contest when three attempted Chelsea clearances landed the ball straight into his path and through on goal.

Timo Werner’s deflected effort had Chelsea level quickly after Nketiah’s first goal, with captain Azpilicueta then cancelling out a fine finish from Emile Smith Rowe before half-time.

The fatigued and off-kilter Blues were made to pay for a string of errors however, with £98million striker Romelu Lukaku again failing to fire.

Toni Rudiger’s absence with a minor groin problem destabilised Chelsea’s defence, and Christensen endured a night to forget.

The Denmark international was withdrawn at half-time in a below-par showing, but not even the peerless Thiago Silva could sharpen up the hosts.

Arsenal took full advantage of Chelsea’s malaise to notch just their second win in six league matches, breaking a wretched run of results to move below Spurs on goal difference, leaving the race to finish fourth wide open.

Lukaku’s sole meaningful act of a quiet first half was to drag wide after being played in by Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

Chelsea had been under precious little pressure from the off, but constituted their own downfall with Christensen’s horror-show attempted back-pass.

The defender majorly under-sold his attempted pass to Edouard Mendy, instead gifting Nketiah a stroll in on goal.

Nketiah needed no second invitation, and duly cantered in before providing a crisp finish.

Chelsea were level just four minutes later however, as Werner’s 20-yard strike took a significant deflection off Granit Xhaka to beat Aaron Ramsdale at his near post.

Smith Rowe quickly had Arsenal 2-1 ahead however, with a sharp sidefooted finish after Saka had combined well with Martin Odegaard, who provided the assist.

The Blues needed just five minutes this time to level, with Azpilicueta sneaking in to provide a poacher’s finish to Mason Mount’s teasing cross.

Smith Rowe had the last word in the half as Arsenal attacked again, but this time could only whip his effort wide of the post.

Silva replaced Christensen at the break, with the 37-year-old clearly drafted in to sure up the Blues’ backline.

Not even the peerless Brazilian could solve Chelsea’s defensive shortcomings however, as Arsenal took the lead again.

Silva won the ball at full stretch only for Malang Sarr to bungle the attempted clearance, allowing Nketiah to pounce for his second of the night.

The ball fell kindly for Nketiah, but Chelsea again set themselves up to fail with woeful defending.

Lukaku was replaced by Kai Havertz moments after the goal, with a large swathe of the Blues support booing the Belgium striker.

Chelsea could find no route back into the contest, and at the death the Blues conceded a spot-kick.

Saka stepped up seemingly well aware of his attempt to erase any lingering Euros memories, and he wrapped up a fine Arsenal result with a coolly converted effort.

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A first senior hat-trick for Eddie Nketiah guided Arsenal to a comfortable victory over Sunderland and into the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup.

The back-up striker has reportedly turned down a new deal at the Emirates Stadium and is out of contract in the summer but shone in a 5-1 win which also saw Charlie Patino score on his first-team debut.

Nketiah opened the scoring before Nicolas Pepe doubled the lead, while the in-form Nathan Broadhead scored his sixth goal in six games to pull one back for the Black Cats before the break.

Any threat of a shock was extinguished within 13 minutes of the second half as Nketiah provided two smart finishes and Patino came off the bench to add the gloss with a late fifth.

Mikel Arteta’s side sit fourth in the Premier League and showed nine changes from Saturday’s win at Leeds as only Ben White and Martin Odegaard kept their places

Sunderland wanted a early penalty as Ross Stewart went down in the box under close attention from Mohamed Elneny – but there appeared to be no contact and the claims were waved away.

A stroke of luck almost put the hosts ahead as a Nuno Tavares cross was turned against his own crossbar by Eddie Embleton with Arsenal starting to knock at the door.

The deadlock would be broken soon after, Rob Holding’s header well-saved by Lee Burge, only for Nketiah to knee home the rebound from close range.

Pepe, the club-record signing given a rare start by Arteta, doubled the lead as he exchanged passes with Cedric Soares before seeing his strike deflected past the helpless Burge.

But if Arsenal thought they were coasting into the semi-finals, they were wrong.

Sunderland would hit them on the break, Broadhead coolly finishing a quick-fire counter from the visitors to half the arrears.

Bernd Leno was then forced into a low save to keep Arsenal ahead as the Sky Bet League One side ended the half on top – although they did lose Broadhead to injury before the interval.

Sunderland boss Lee Johnson had joked about wanting to face Arsenal in the quarter-final after seeing off QPR in the previous round – saying facing the Gunners or their north London rivals Tottenham would let them face “the really big guns” in a two-legged semi-final.

He dismissed the comment as “dad banter” on the eve of the tie but Arsenal showed – in the minutes following half-time – that even their much-changed side were more than enough to see off Johnson’s spirited visitors.

Two flicked finishes from Nketiah would settle the contest, the first from a Tavares cross and the second after some superb work from Pepe – who impressed on his return.

Embleton had hit the post in between but Sunderland were out of the tie as their vociferous following sang throughout.

Arteta was able to hand a first-team debut to highly-rated midfielder Patino for the final 10 minutes, the England Under-19 international replacing fellow academy graduate Emile Smith Rowe and sliding in to convert another Pepe assist to put the cherry on top of the cake for Arsenal.

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Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah came off the bench to score a last-gasp equaliser against Fulham – whose Premier League survival bid suffered another late blow as a result.

Scott Parker’s side lost to a last-minute goal to Wolves last time out but appeared on course for a first-ever away win over Arsenal following Josh Maja’s second-half penalty.

Instead, it was further heartbreak as Nketiah scrambled in from point-blank range to earn the misfiring Gunners a 1-1 draw.

Mikel Arteta made five changes from Arsenal side which cruised into the semi-finals of the Europa League with a 4-0 win at Slavia Prague on Thursday but they never looked like hitting those heights here.

But there would be VAR controversy throughout, Dani Ceballos seeing a header ruled out after Bukayo Saka had been centimetres offside in the build-up.

Then Fulham would get their penalty as referee Craig Pawson pointed to the spot on the advice of his assistant, with VAR checking Gabriel Magalhaes’ foul on Mario Lemina and then a potential offside against Ola Aina in the move leading to the spot-kick.

With both decisions standing, it was left to Maja to hammer the ball home from 12 yards and give Fulham renewed optimism of avoiding the drop.

Nketiah’s eventual leveller would stand after an offside check against Rob Holding in the build-up, with Parker exasperated on the touchline once again.

The hosts had started well, Alexandre Lacazette playing in Gabriel Martinelli with the recalled striker chipping his effort just wide.

He then forced a low save out of Alphonse Areloa after Emile Smith Rowe had forced a low ball across goal.

Fulham offered nothing going forward until the 20-minute mark when a deflected Maja shot wrong-footed home debutant Mat Ryan in the Arsenal goal and trickled inches wide of the post.

Arsenal had started well but were soon toiling to break down a stubborn Fulham defence.

The hosts thought they had finally broken through when Ceballos headed in a Hector Bellerin cross – only for VAR to spot Saka’s straying boot.

The assistant referee’s flag would soon deny Arsenal another goal, this time with a more-obvious decision against Smith Rowe, who mistimed his run as he latched onto a Lacazette pass.

Lacazette pulled a shot wide right at the start of the second half but Arsenal would again struggle to create chances.

That would come back to haunt them as Fulham were awarded a penalty, with referee Pawson pointing to the spot after guidance from his assistant.

Two VAR checks later and Maja broke the deadlock, giving Ryan no chance from the spot.

Arteta turned to Nicolas Pepe and Thomas Partey, the former coming close to levelling with his first meaningful touch as his header across goal was hacked clear.

Lacazette was then replaced by Nketiah, the France striker heading straight down the tunnel with his shirt over his head.

It would be Nketiah who provided the late heroics as Arsenal threw everything they could to earn a share of the spoils.

Ryan was thrown into the Fulham box for back-to-back late corners and got a telling glance to the second as the ball broke to Ceballos, whose shot was fumbled away by Areola but into the path of the waiting Nketiah.