Sanchez and Ozil score as Gunners claim hard-fought win

Mesut Ozil Arsenal

Arsenal were far from convincing but they emerged 2-1 victors against relegation-threatened Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium on Monday.

  • Middlesbrough 1 Arsenal 2
  • Sanchez scores with free-kick
  • Negredo equalises after the break
  • Cech makes fine save to deny Ayala
  • Ozil secures win for Gunners

Match Summary

Arsene Wenger's side took their one clear-cut chance in the first half as Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring with a superb free-kick just before half-time, but Boro responded quickly after the restart to draw level through Alvaro Negredo.

However, Mesut Ozil struck the winner 19 minutes from time to get their top-four challenge back on track.

We ? this, @alexis_officia1 ? #MFCvAFC #arsenal #gunners #COYG

A post shared by Arsenal Official (@arsenal) on Apr 17, 2017 at 2:11pm PDT

Full Report

As they so often do, the Gunners had the lion's share of possession on Teesside, but Boro coped for much of the first half.

The problem for Steve Agnew's men was up front and it showed, as they failed to get any of their five shots on target in the opening 45 minutes.

They had the first chance of the game just four minutes in when Grant Leadbitter received the ball from a quickly-taken free-kick and flashed a long-range shot wide of the right post.

Negredo then spotted Petr Cech off his line on 12 minutes, but his ambitious effort from a long way out sailed well over the crossbar.

The visitors had shown glimpses of their attacking threat on the opening 20 minutes, but Boro's high line was dealing with the danger.

Marten de Roon beat Cech with a header from six yards out on 23 minutes after getting on the end of Gaston Ramírez's lofted pass, but the offside flag halted celebrations from the home fans.

Boro were presented with another opportunity two minutes later from a Stewart Downing free-kick that was cleared out and Leadbitter hit a first-time shot over the bar from outside the area.

Antonio Barragan had to be alert soon afterwards as he headed Aaron Ramsey's acrobatic effort off the line in the 28th minute, while Sanchez forced Guzan into a comfortable save with his angled strike at the back post moments later.

Daniel Ayala found space at the back post from a free-kick on 33 minutes, but steered his header straight into team-mate Ben Gibson

The north Londoners had fashioned very few chances, but they broke the deadlock three minutes before half-time with a touch of class from Sanchez.

The Chilean left Guzan flat-footed with a sublime free-kick that he curled over the wall and into the left corner of the net.

However, Boro hit back swiftly in the second half as they broke upfield through Downing, whose pin-point cross from the right saw Negredo volley past Cech from six yards out in the 50th minute.

Downing then wasted a good chance to put the home team ahead four minutes later when he blasted over at the back post after George Friend got away down the left flank before sending in a cross.

Ayala did better with his diving header in the 61st minute after Friend had steered the ball back across goal from Downing's free-kick, but Cech pulled off a sharp save to deny the defender at close range.

Guzan was quick off his line to prevent Ozil from converting Sanchez's exquisite through-ball two minutes later, but there was little the American keeper could do to deny the German from restoring the Gunners' lead on 71 minutes.

Sanchez delivered a lofted pass into the box from the left and Ramsey chested the ball down for Ozil to fire past Guzan at his near post from seven yards out.

Cech was called into action 11 minutes from time as Negredo forced him into a low save with a shot from the edge of the box, after Rudy Gestede set him up with a square pass.

Giroud looked to seal the win in the 82nd minute after being picked out by Sanchez, but the French striker got his bearings all wrong as he fired well wide of the left post from 20 yards out.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was denied by Guzan at his neat post in stoppage time after the winger made his way into the area on the right, while Giroud missed the target with a deft lofted effort moments later.