Arsenal secure late draw at Man City

AP, Sunday 23 Sep 2012

Laurent Koscielny spared Arsenal from a first loss of the Premier League season at Manchester City on Sunday, clinching a 1-1 draw against the defending champions

Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny (2nd R) celebrates scoring against Manchester City during their English Premier League soccer match in Manchester, northern England September 23, 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

Joleon Lescott headed City in front at the end of the first half, but the defender failed to clear a corner in the 82nd minute, allowing Koscielny to score the late leveler from close range.

City's title defense has now started with two scrappy wins and three draws to sit in seventh, behind fifth-place Arsenal on goal difference.

City had been boosted by the return of Sergio Aguero for the first time since the opening weekend of the season after a knee injury, and the striker had the first real chance of the game in the 14th with a curling shot that was pushed away by goalkeeper Vito Mannone.

It was Arsenal who were looking the more dangerous, though, cutting swathes through City's midfield, and had it not been for a bad touch from Gervinho as he ran on to Aaron Ramsey's throughball, the visitors might have been ahead.

The Gunners were taking on their opponents with real pace and Carl Jenkinson did well down the right and pulled the ball back to Lukas Podolski, who could only blaze his shot well over the bar.

Gervinho then fired just wide with a shot that rippled the side-netting and drew cheers from the section of Arsenal fans down the other end who thought it had sneaked in.

The London club had not really tested goalkeeper Joe Hart, though, and they were made to pay in the 40th minute when Lescott headed in David Silva's corner.

Mannone, playing in place of the injured Wojciech Szczesny, tried to get through a ruck of defenders but got nowhere near the ball.

City could even have been two ahead at the break but Mannone partially redeemed himself with a fingertip save from Edin Dzeko's curling shot.

Arsenal continued passing the ball around neatly in the second half without really looking like scoring, and Gervinho was off target again as he blasted high and wide.

Arsenal was pressing hard but City almost decided the game on the break in the 80th when Yaya Toure played in Aguero for a shot that was smartly stopped by Mannone.

That proved crucial as Arsenal went up the other end and Santi Cazorla drew the first real save out of Hart with a fine shot from the edge of the box.

The Spaniard took the resulting corner and Lescott could only divert the ball to the feet of Koscielny, who smashed the ball into the top corner.

Arsenal had Mannone to thank for protecting the point moments later as he saved Vincent Kompany's acrobatic overhead kick before Aguero shot inches wide.

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