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Saturday, 6 April, 2002, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
Arsenal edge out Spurs
Ljungberg (hidden) slides a finish past Keller
Ljungberg (hidden) slides a finish past Keller
Arsenal 2-1 Spurs
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Arsenal edged a step closer to the title and returned to the Premiership summit after a dramatic finish to the north London derby at Highbury.

Arsene Wenger's side looked to be cruising to a comfortable victory thanks to Freddie Ljungberg's first half goal.

But they were stunned when Teddy Sheringham equalised for Spurs with a controversial penalty ten minutes from time.


There was a lot of tension and nerves but we found the mental strength to bounce back. It was an important victory as it is still in our hands
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
Spurs appeared to have inflicted a damaging blow to their bitter rivals' title ambitions - only for Arsenal to snatch the winner when Cameroon international Lauren scored from the spot after 86 minutes.

It was a deserved and vital victory for Arsenal - their eighth in succession in the league - and puts them in pole position to take the title back to Highbury.

Arsenal entered the game carrying the added pressure of knowing Manchester United had already won at Leicester - but they played in their usual flowing fashion in the opening half.

Arsenal players celebrate Ljungberg's goal
Arsenal players celebrate Ljungberg's goal
Spurs swiftly found themselves under pressure and the game had an inevitable physical edge, with Gustavo Poyet and Sheringham booked, and they were joined by Arsenal's Dennis Bergkamp.

Ljungberg almost gave Arsenal the lead they craved after 24 minutes when he was only halted by a brilliant save from Kasey Keller, who was deputising for Neil Sullivan.

But the Swede was not to be denied and he put Arsenal in front seconds later.

Dutch master Bergkamp released Ljungberg and he scored via a deflection from Spurs keeper Keller.

Bergkamp was at his imperious best, and he almost doubled Arsenal's lead when he pulled into space on the left of the penalty area, but his curling drive was turned to safety by Keller at full stretch.

  Key Highbury incidents
25: Ljungberg opens the scoring for Arsenal
80: Sheringham scores Spurs' equaliser from the spot
86: Lauren scores Arsenal's controversial winner with a penalty

Spurs had hardly been seen as an attacking force, and their options were reduced further ten minutes into the second half.

Striker Steffen Iversen, who had been injured in a collision with Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman in the first half, was finally replaced by Sergei Rebrov.

Hoddle had changed his defensive formation at half-time, replacing the limping Ledley King with Simon Davies - but Arsenal still maintained supremacy.

Arsenal had a rare nervous moment when goalkeeper Seaman came perilously close to carrying the ball into his own net as he caught a corner under pressure, with no free-kick awarded in his favour.

Spurs were hanging on despite all the Arsenal pressure, and were amazingly thrown a lifeline with ten minutes to go.

Poyet tumbled under a challenge from Seaman, and after a moment's hesitation, it became clear referee Mark Halsey had pointed to the spot.

Arsenal were stunned, but Sheringham did not complain and calmly beat Seaman.


Ours was a little bit clearer as there were less bodies around but the lads thought their penalty was 50-50, it wasn't as blatant as ours
Spurs manager Glenn Hoddle
Spurs' celebrations were cut short in another moment of drama four minutes from time when Halsey awarded a second penalty - this time to the Gunners.

Subsitute Kanu played in Thierry Henry, and he was fouled by Dean Richards.

Henry, Arsenal's normal penalty taker, was receiving treament as Lauren stepped up to just beat Keller with an unconvincing penalty.

It was enough to give Arsenal victory - and bring the title a step closer.


Arsenal: Seaman, Luzhny, Campbell, Adams, Lauren, Wiltord, Vieira, Edu, Ljungberg, Henry, Bergkamp. Subs: Dixon, Keown, Parlour, Wright, Kanu.

Tottenham: Keller, Perry, Richards, Gardner, King, Ziege, Anderton, Sherwood, Poyet, Sheringham, Iversen. Subs: Rebrov, Thatcher, Herschfeld, Etherington, Davies.

Referee: M Halsey (Welwyn Garden City)

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Simon Brotherton
"Arsenal remain in the driving seat"
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger
"To be strong at home will be decisive"
Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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