x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Gallas leaves it late to spoil Adams's return

William Gallas' late header spoils Arsenal legend Tony Adams's return to his former club as the north Londoners were made to sweat for their victory.

LONDON // William Gallas' late header spoiled Arsenal legend Tony Adams's return to his former club as the north Londoners were made to sweat for their victory. The French defender, who had been stripped of the Arsenal captaincy earlier in the season, rose to nod home Denilson's free-kick with only nine minutes remaining, and keep alive his side's Premier League challenge.

Portsmouth set out to destroy the home side's creativity by playing five in midfield, and with Peter Crouch acting as his team's solitary attacker. Pompey's plan worked well, as they harried Arsenal, giving them little time to conjure something in the final third. Emmanuel Adebayor should have put Arsenal ahead after 32 minutes with a gilt-edged opportunity. The Togo forward, returning after suspension, was played through by a clever first-time pass by Abou Diaby that bisected the Portsmouth defence, but, having rounded goalkeeper David James, he was tackled excellently by a sliding Sylvain Distin.

Adebayor wasted another superb opportunity on the hour mark but, with Arsenal supporters becoming more restless as a fourth consecutive draw loomed, Brazilian Denilson clipped over a free-kick from the left, which Papa Bouba Diop needlessly conceded, and Gallas managed to steal in front of James and head the winner after 81 minutes. The result moved Wenger's team to fourth in the table, though they are still 10 points behind leaders Liverpool. For Arsenal old boy Adams, who played more than 500 games for the club, the pressure will increase. Since taking over from Harry Redknapp his team have managed only nine points from a possible 33 and a relegation battle looks a certainty.

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