Arsenal made it back-to-back wins in the Premier League as they beat Cardiff 3-2 in an entertaining encounter at the Cardiff City Stadium on Sunday.
Cardiff City 2 Arsenal 3
Mustafi (11′) nets with powerful header
Camarasa (45′) hits back for Bluebirds
Aubameyang (62′) restores Gunners’ lead
Ward (70′) levels matters again
Lacazette (81′) scores late winner
Unai Emery’s side looked impressive in the first half and went ahead through Shkodran Mustafi on 11 minutes, but the Bluebirds replied just before half-time with an equaliser from Víctor Camarasa.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang restored the Gunners’ lead early in the second half, and Alexandre Lacazette clinched victory late on after Daniel Ward had levelled matters on 70 minutes.
Arsenal bossed proceedings in the first half although Cardiff put in a spirited performance and they should have opened their account for the season just eight minutes into the match.
Petr Cech presented a gift to Harry Arter with his terrible pass inside the box, but the midfielder blasted over from 17 yards out.
The visitors almost went ahead moments later after a short corner on the right was worked to Alexandre Lacazette, whose clever backheel found Aaron Ramsey in space, but the midfielder’s low shot from 10 yards out was saved by Neil Etheridge and Mustafi failed to keep the rebound down.
Hector Bellerin then tested Etheridge from 20 yards out on the right in the 11th minute as Aubameyang looked to nip in ahead of the home keeper, who punched the ball behind when Sean Morrison hesitated to clear.
It proved costly as Mustafi powered a header home from the resulting corner to give the north London giants a deserved lead.
Monreal spurned the chance to make it 2-0 on the quarter-hour mark when Bruno Ecuele Manga’s scuffed clearance fell kindly for him inside the area on the left, but the Spaniard failed to beat Etheridge from 10 yards out.
Neill Warnock’s troops looked to respond and Ward was just unable to get on the end of Bobby Reid’s fine cross from the right on 19 minutes, before Junior Hoilett blazed over from 12 yards out after picking up the scraps on the left.
Granit Xhaka dragged an effort wide of the right post from 25 yards out after Mesut Ozil picked him out in space on 28 minutes, while back up the other end Reid failed to make contact with Joe Bennett’s cross on the left and then cleared the target with an overhead-kick from eight yards out when the ball popped up on the rebound.
Lacazette was afforded time and space to shoot on 33 minutes and he almost made the hosts pay, only to see his low strike from 19 yards out hit the base of the left post.
The Welsh outfit finished the half strongly, though, and after Arter skied a volley from 17 yards out when Morrison headed a lofted free-kick down into his path in added time, Camarasa lashed a shot past Cech from 10 yards out on the right after the opposition defence failed to deal with Bennett’s cross from the left.
Another dreadful pass from Cech at the start of the second half put his team under pressure, but Hoilett wasn’t able to punish the visiting keeper as he cleared the crossbar from 28 yards out.
Etheridge was alert to the danger in the 54th minute when he parried away Mustafi’s header at the back post from a corner, before getting down to save Monreal’s right-footed shot second later.
Chances continued to come at both ends, with Xhaka seeing his first-time strike deflected over by Arter on 56 minutes, while Ward curled an effort over from 16 yards out two minutes later after cutting inside from the right.
However, Cardiff went behind again on 62 minutes as Aubameyang curled a shot into the right corner of the net from 20 yards out after latching onto Lacazette’s flick.
They hit back eight minutes later, though, when Ward directed an expert header in off the left post from 12 yards out after Morrison nodded a free-kick back across goal.
Reid forced Cech into a save with an effort from 18 yards out on the right after linking up well with Ward 11 minutes from time, but another clinical finish from the Gunners two minutes later handed them the points.
Sol Bamba gave Lacazette too much space inside the box to collect Lucas Torreira’s pass and drilled a shot high past Etheridge at his near post from eight yards out on the right.