Giroud rescues Arsenal for a draw at St Mary’s

Giroud produced a flicked header to deflect an 88th-minute Alexis Sanchez cross into the net when a leveller looked unlikely

Cape Town – Olivier Giroud came off the bench and to the rescue for Arsenal in a 1-1 draw against Southampton at St Mary’s on Sunday.

The Saints took the lead in just the third minute, when Dusan Tadic burst forward from the throw-in and played a delicious reverse pass for Charlie Austin to run onto and thump home the opener past Petr Cech.

The Gunners had a good response to going behind, dominating possession and taking the game towards the hosts in the first half and hour, but the Saints almost had a second on the half-hour mark when a James Ward-Prowse cross caused chaos in the Arsenal box.

A few minutes later and Fraser Forster did well to deny Aaron Ramsey from the edge of the box after some good work by Alexis Sanchez had picked out the Welshman.

There was a small shout for a penalty just before halftime when Sanchez set Hector Bellerin free down the right, and he set up Alexandre Lacazette for a strike, but the challenge of Maya Yoshida threw him off and he ballooned his effort well over the bar, with the Japanese defender lucky not to give anything away.

The Gunners were on the front foot for most of the second half, patiently waiting for the killer pass, while all the Saints could muster was a timid shot from Redmond that was easily gobbled up by Petr Cech.

Just past the hour mark Oriol Romeu almost shocked Arsenal with a second goal for the hosts when he let loose from the edge of the box with a zipping shot that had Cech beat, only to clanf off the crossbar.

Moments later and Ryan Bertrand missed another chance for the Saints to double their lead, before Nacho Monreal fired narrowly wide down at the other end.

The 72nd minute saw the introduction of Olivier Giroud for his fellow French striker Lacazette, and the big No.12 had Arsenal level in the 88th minute with a typical goal for him – a glancing header from Sanchez’s cross.

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