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.
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
ANOTHER SCANDAL: Searches focused on several riders, including Dayer Quintana, a source said, while the two being held were reportedly a doctor and physiotherapist French police on Monday detained two people as part of an investigation into suspected doping in the Arkea-Samsic team at this year’s Tour de France, prosecutors announced. The probe is the first significant one in several years for the repeatedly scandal-hit tour, which on Sunday wrapped up in Paris with a victory for 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar, who became the youngest winner in more than a century. Prosecutor Dominique Laurens in Marseille said in a statement that an investigation was being carried out into a “small part” of France-based Arkea-Samsic, without specifying who had been placed in custody. Laurens added that the two
Former MLB pitcher Wang Wei-chung has signed the biggest contract with a local team in Taiwan’s professional baseball history, the Wei Chuan Dragons said yesterday. The 28-year-old left-hander signed a five-year US$2.08 million contract with the Dragons, team chairman Hsu Wen-fang told a news conference. It is the biggest contract in the CPBL’s 31-year history, surpassing a three-year, US$1.36 million deal Lin Chih-sheng signed in 2016 with the CTBC Brothers. Although the overall value of Wang’s deal set a new record, his average monthly salary of NT$990,000 (US$33,886) is lower than Lin’s pay of NT$1.2 million per month in 2017