Arsenal beat Newcastle 3-2

Arsenal ended a bad week on a high when they produced a battling performance to beat Newcastle United 3-2 in a lively English Premier League game.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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League leaders Arsenal were looking to put the disciplinary aftermath of Sunday's 0-0 draw at Manchester United behind them when they entertained Newcastle United in the English Premier League at Highbury on Friday. Newcastle were hoping their midweek 5-0 demolition of NAC Breda in the UEFA Cup would kick start their league campaign. They haven't won a league game so far this season. Rain drenched Arsenal, on an eight match unbeaten League run, started brightly despite a sudden downpour. The rain might have had a contribution to the opening goal. Lauren's cross on 18 minutes saw an appalling mistake by centre-back Titus Bramble and Thierry Henry made no mistake from close range at the far post. Manager Arsene Wenger, who celebrates seven years in charge at Highbury on Tuesday, was forced to change his line-up because of injury to the Patrick Vieira. The Frenchman, the man at the centre of the controversy at Old Trafford, was replaced by Edu on 25 minutes. Defense slips Just a minute later Newcastle were level as Arsenal's defence, which had previously looked imposing, was suddenly torn apart with ease. Kieron Dyer beat Martin Keown to the by-line to cut the ball back for Laurent Robert, who moved ahead of both Lauren and Edu to force a close-range effort over the line. Five minutes after the restart, Arsenal came close to retaking the lead. Andy O'Brien slipped which enabled Sylvain Wiltord find Freddie Ljungberg, but the Swede's chip rebounded off the post with Shay Given well beaten. Arsenal did go back into the lead on 67 minutes when substitute Robert Pires swung over a free-kick and Gilberto powered home a header to put Arsenal 2-1 ahead. It was the Brazilian World Cup winner's first Premiership goal. Arsenal's defence went to sleep again four minutes later, allowing Dyer to run from the halfway line. His pinpoint pass found Olivier Bernard and the Frenchman rifled a shot into the net on 71 minutes to make it 2-2. Smart comeback With just 10 minutes left, referee Mike Riley penalised Jermaine Jenas for handball in the area and Arsenal were presented with a chance to win the game. The young Newcastle midfielder inexplicably went up with his arm following a Pires corner. Henry stepped up and, despite having missed his last penalty against Inter Milan, nonchalantly chipped his kick down the centre of the goal to allow Arsenal to finally emerge triumphant 3-2 and extend their lead at the top of the table to four points. Newcastle remained second last in the table on three points and still without a win. (AP)