Skrtel saves Liverpool
LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Martin Skrtel powered home a header deep into stoppage time to earn 10-man Liverpool a 2-2 draw against Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday.
In the seventh of nine minutes of injury time, Skrtel leaped high to head a right-wing corner from Adam Lallana into the bottom corner.
Despite being mostly outplayed, Arsenal recovered from conceding a 45th-minute goal to Philippe Coutinho by scoring in first-half injury time through Mathieu Debuchy before Olivier Giroud swept home from close range in the 64th.
Substitute Fabio Borini was sent off two minutes into stoppage time for picking up two quick bookings, yet there was still time for Skrtel to rescue a point for Liverpool, which climbed a place to 10th. Arsenal is sixth, four points of the top four.
It was the least Liverpool deserved for an effervescent performance that overran Arsenal at times but exposed the team’s biggest problem this season — a lack of a true goal scorer to finish off the glut of chances created.
In the end, the Reds relied on a center back to get the team out of trouble — in a lengthy period of injury time allotted after Skrtel himself was trodden on by Giroud early in the second half, requiring a long stoppage to bandage his bleeding head.
In Liverpool’s situation, though, a point is not enough if last season’s runner-up is to climb back into the Champions League places. With almost half the season gone, Liverpool is nine points behind fourth-place West Ham.
In Newcastle, Adam Johnson scored a 90th-minute winner as Sunderland beat Newcastle 1-0 for an unprecedented fourth straight victory in the north-east derby.
The winger finished off a length-of-the-field counterattack with a volley inside the near post, scoring at St. James’ Park for the third season in a row to settle a low-quality and typically feisty derby.
“They must hate me here,” said Johnson, who earlier squandered one of a series of great chances created by Sunderland in an open match.
Less than a minute before the former Manchester City winger struck, Sunderland goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon produced the save of the game to tip over a rising shot from Moussa Sissoko. Ayoze Perez was also denied twice by Pantilimon as Newcastle came back strongly after being dominated for the first hour.
Since ending Chelsea’s unbeaten start to the season with a 2-1 win on Dec. 6, Newcastle has lost three straight games to end the team’s revival and the pressure is back on manager Alan Pardew.