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Saturday, 27 October, 2001, 16:51 GMT 17:51 UK
Arsenal held at Sunderland
Thomas Sorenson is unable to deny Kanu as Stanislav Varga looks on
Kanu runs in on goal to open the scoring
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Sunderland 1-1 Arsenal

Sunderland denied Arsenal the opportunity of taking top spot in the Premiership with a combative performance.

And the Black Cats looked to have taken all three points on offer - only for referee Mike Riley to rule out Julio Arca's last-minute effort.

Amid confusion, with the home players and crowd alike thinking they had won, Riley blew for offside.

  Key moments
18 mins: Wright makes a double save from McAteer and Arca
40 mins: Kanu opens the scoring
54 mins: Schwarz scores the equaliser
56 mins: Wright smothers a Phillips effort
70 mins: Vieira balloons a penalty over the bar
90 mins: Amid cofusion referee Riley rules out Arca's last-minute "goal"
Sunderland had initially come from behind when Stefan Schwarz cancelled out Kanu's first half goal.

The former Arsenal midfielder's fiercely struck goal heralded a frantic second half when both sides looked for a telling breakthrough.

Arsene Wenger's men were given a gilt-edged opportunity to take the points after 70 minutes, but Patrick Vieira blazed a penalty over Thomas Sorenson's bar.

The penalty miss apart, the Frenchman was the guiding force in an Arsenal team missing a trio of stars.

Wenger chose to rest or rotate Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Robert Pires.


Vieira is one of the best midfielders in the world, if not the best, and the battle between him and McCann was worth the entry fee alone
Peter Reid
In the early exchanges, Kevin Phillips, leading the hosts' line on his own, went close on two occasions and the Arsenal back four were indebted to Richard Wright on 18 minutes.

Wright, playing in his fifth successive game, clawed away Jason McAteer's cross before palming Arca's shot wide.

But as Vieira slowly gained the upperhand in the midfield battle with Gavin McCann, Arsenal found their fluidity.

The visitors were duly rewarded when Kanu scored the club's first league goal on Wearside in 17 years.

The Nigerian was put through by Sylvain Wiltord, and after Sorenson made an initial save, Kanu found the back of the net to the delight of the travelling support.

Sunderland players protest with Mike Riley at the final whistle
Sunderland players protest at the final whistle
But after their side withstood an early Arsenal surge after half-time, the home fans had something to cheer when Schwarz lobbed an equaliser from the edge of the area.

The Swede's third goal for the club not only lifted the crowd, but also his team-mates.

They found the same attacking verve with which they started the match, took the game to their opponents and almost took the points in injury-time.

But for the second successive season the match ended in controversy, following Vieira's red card on the opening day of last season.

Wenger claimed that that defeat haunted his team's away performances for the rest of the season.


I'm disappointed and frustrated by the result because we had three chances to score a second goal
Arsene Wenger
Arsenal's inability to shake of their tenacious opponents, and Wenger's over-confidence in leaving out a host of stars, could mean their visit proves costly again.

But for Reid this was a well-earned point.

It came on the back of three defeats and was due reward for a competitve performance against a team still looking for a first win at Sunderland since 1966.


Sunderland: Sorensen, Haas, Gray, Thome, Craddock, Varga, McAteer, Schwarz, McCann, Arca, Phillips.
Subs: Macho, Quinn, Williams, Bellion, McCartney.

Arsenal: Wright, Lauren, Upson, Keown, Campbell, van Bronckhorst, Ljungberg, Vieira, Parlour, Kanu, Wiltord.
Subs: Pires, Bergkamp, Henry, Luzhny, Taylor.

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Peter Slater
"Sunderland thought they'd won it with the last chance of the match"
Sunderland boss Peter Reid
"We competed and passed the ball really well today"
Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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