Giroud's double leads Arsenal to sink Newcastle

AP , Saturday 21 Mar 2015

rsenal's Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring their second goal with Francis Coquelin, Calum Chambers and Gabriel Paulista (Photo: Reuters)

Olivier Giroud scored twice in the first half and Arsenal hung on for a 2-1 win at Newcastle on Saturday to stay in control of third place in the Premier League.

Giroud scored from two set pieces, getting his knee on the ball to deflect it into the net in the 24th after Danny Welbeck headed down a free kick from Santi Cazorla. The French striker then shook off his maker to head in Cazorla's corner in the 28th as Arsenal dominated the first half and looked like it could run up the score.

But Newcastle turned the game on its head after the break as Moussa Sissoko pulled one back in the 49th. The hosts kept pressing for an equalizer and Arsenal needed two good saves from goalkeeper David Ospina to protect its lead.

With the win, Arsenal stayed one point behind second-place Manchester City and is now four ahead of Manchester United, which plays fifth-place Liverpool on Sunday.

Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil missed the game with an illness but it had looked like a comfortable afternoon for the visitors, who poured forward from the start and had Newcastle's defense in disarray for much of the first half. But it was the other way around in the second half as Arsenal had to defend desperately to keep the resurgent hosts at bay.

Sissoko was left all alone in the area to meet a cross from the right flank and calmly slotted the ball inside the near post to give Newcastle hope. Mike Williamson came close to equalizing in the 64th when Ospina had to make a good reaction save on the line to keep out his header.

Ospina then made another smart save in the 86th when Ayoze Perez's shot was deflected and the goalkeeper managed to stretch out his leg to push the ball aside.

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