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Tuesday, 18 December, 2001, 22:04 GMT
Newcastle hit top spot
Robert Pires
Pires celebrates his opening strike
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Arsenal 1-3 Newcastle

Newcastle have gone top of the English Premiership with their first win in London for four years.

Bobby Robson's side came from behind to beat Arsenal by two clear goals at Highbury on Tuesday night, although they needed a big helping hand from referee Graham Poll.

I still don't think we will win the championship but we will challenge those who think they can win it
Newcastle boss
Bobby Robson

The Tring official incensed the home team by dismissing Ray Parlour at the end of the first half and then awarding the Magpies a controversial penalty with five minutes to go.

Robert Pires gave the Gunners the lead but goals from Andy O'Brien, Alan Shearer and Laurent Robert ensured Newcastle, who had Craig Bellamy sent off, won in the capital at the 30th time of asking.

Robson called the victory "the best early Christmas present I have had for many, many years".

Arsenal opened brightly and should have taken the lead on 15 minutes when Kanu poked the ball over with the goal at his mercy.

But the glaring miss was quickly forgotten when Pires found the net from inside the six-yard box following a cross by Ashley Cole.

Newcastle claimed that the Frenchman had handled when the ball initially came into the area from Thierry Henry's overhead kick.

Graham Poll sees red
Poll sends off Parlour
But referee Poll was unmoved, although he upset the Arsenal camp just before half-time when he sent off Parlour.

The England international, who had been booked earlier in the half for planting an elbow into the head of Nikos Dabizas, was shown a second yellow when he brought down Shearer.

A number of Newcastle players, among them Shearer, urged the official to keep his cards in his pocket, but the damage had been done.

The home side should have been several goals to the good by that stage, with Henry and Sylvain Wiltord both wasting chances to score.

And Newcastle made the most of the let-offs by equalising on 60 minutes through O'Brien.

If it had been 11 v 11 we would have won this game comfortably.... we lost a lot of energy when we were playing with 10 men
Arsenal boss
Arsene Wenger

The former Bradford defender headed the ball home at the near post following a corner from substitute Lomana Lua-Lua.

Poll then took centre stage again on 72 minutes by producing his second red card of the match.

This time Bellamy, who had just completed a suspension, was the recipient. The former Norwich striker handed his marching orders for swinging an arm into the face of Cole.

Poll came under yet more fire when he ruled that Sol Campbell had fouled Robert inside the Arsenal area with five minutes left.

Arsene Wenger
Wenger remonstrates with the fourth official
The England defender won the ball fairly but the referee earned the wrath of most of Highbury by pointing to the spot.

As Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger shook his head in dismay on the sidelines, Shearer stepped up to convert the spotkick.

Arsenal's woes were compounded in injury time when Robert finished off a swift Newcastle break by slotting the ball past Stuart Taylor.

At the final whistle, Henry had to be pushed by several team-mates and Newcastle players as he tried to confront Poll.

Arsenal: Taylor, Lauren, Campbell, Keown, Cole, Pires, Parlour, Vieira, Henry, Kanu, Wiltord. Subs: Bergkamp, van Bronckhorst, Grimandi, Upson, Stack.

Newcastle: Given, Hughes, O'Brien, Dabizas, Elliott, Dyer, Solano, Bernard, Speed, Shearer, Bellamy. Subs: Harper, Lua-Lua, McClen, Distin, Robert.

Referee: G Poll (Tring).

BBC Sport's Ian Brown
"Newcastle's headlines will be stolen by referee Graham Poll"
Referee Graham Poll
"I will be reporting the Thierry Henry incident"
Newcastle boss Bobby Robson
"I don't think our supporters will think the referee has had a bad night"
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
"My team feels very frustrated"
Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.


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