Wed, Apr 19, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Arsenal change tactics to edge Middlesbrough 2-1


Arsenal on Monday kept alive their slim hopes of securing a UEFA Champions League spot next season with a 2-1 Premier League victory at Middlesbrough that left the hosts in deep danger of relegation.

A superb Alexis Sanchez free-kick put the Gunners ahead three minutes before the break, but Spanish striker Alvaro Negredo brought Boro level four minutes after the interval.

German midfielder Mesut Ozil grabbed a close-range winner for Arsenal in the 71st minute.

The result left Arsenal in sixth, seven points behind fourth-placed Manchester City, who have played one game more. Boro are second-bottom, six points adrift of safety with six games left.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger made six changes to the team that had lost 3-0 in humiliating fashion to Crystal Palace last week and switched to a 3-4-3 formation, a new approach for the Gunners.

“Sometimes when a team lacks confidence, changing the system helps the team to believe in something different,” Wenger said.

A low-key first half ended with Arsenal getting ahead when Sanchez showed great technique as he lifted the ball over a long wall and past motionless Boro goalkeeper Brad Guzan.

However, Boro responded positively and their equalizer was perfectly executed, Stewart Downing racing down the right flank and delivering a pinpoint cross that Negredo met with a side-foot finish after losing his marker Laurent Koscielny.

Middlesbrough went close to a second with a stooping Daniel Ayala header, which Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech saved well, allowing his defense to scramble clear.

However, Arsenal secured their first away win in five Premier League matches when Sanchez floated a ball into the box, which Aaron Ramsey cleverly chested down to Ozil who made no mistake from close range.

“I think we were focused and committed and you could see that we did not play with full confidence during some moments in the game,” Wenger said.

“When you are in a lack-of-confidence situation, it comes back slowly and only the results help,” the Frenchman added.

Arsenal are to face Manchester City on Sunday in the FA Cup semi-finals.



Deportivo Alaves on Monday defeated Villarreal 2-1 to snap a three-game losing streak in La Liga.

Alaves had not won in the league since March 18. The Copa del Rey finalists remain 11th in the 20-team standings.

Villarreal, coming off two consecutive victories, were trying to move within five points of fourth-placed Sevilla, who hold the final UEFA Champions League spot.

Ibai Gomez opened the scoring from the edge of the area in the 35th minute, while Rodrigo Ely added to the lead with a header in the 45th.

Cedric Bakambu pulled Villarreal closer in the 70th and had a chance to equalize in the final minute of stoppage time, but could not capitalize on a one-on-one situation.

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