Reiss Nelson's LAST GASP stunner seals incredible 3-2 comeback for Premier League leaders as Mikel Arteta's men come from two goals down to seal victory and maintain their five-point advantage

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The first nine seconds were historic, the last nine euphoric.

The shellshock of conceding the second-fastest Premier League goal took 97 minutes to wear off for Arsenal, but no one in the pile-on that ensued after Reiss Nelson hit the net to seal a breathless comeback will say it came a second too soon.

Arsenal are five points clear at the top of the table again when it seemed for all the world that three was all they had left themselves time for.

They have turned despair into ecstasy again and added to the growing evidence that this is going to be a season to remember for their fans.

How early is too early to go in front? Well, how about 9.11 seconds? Is 2-0 a dangerous lead? It is against this Arsenal team that will never say die.

Reiss Nelson scored a 97th minute winner for Arsenal against Bournemouth, sending the Emirates Stadium into euphoria

Reiss Nelson scored a 97th minute winner for Arsenal against Bournemouth, sending the Emirates Stadium into euphoria

Reiss Nelson scored a 97th minute winner for Arsenal against Bournemouth, sending the Emirates Stadium into euphoria

The stunning comeback win means Mikel Arteta's Gunners keep hold of their five-point lead at the top of the league table

The stunning comeback win means Mikel Arteta's Gunners keep hold of their five-point lead at the top of the league table

Philip Billing's goal for Bournemouth after 9.11 seconds was the second-fastest goal in Premier League history

Philip Billing's goal for Bournemouth after 9.11 seconds was the second-fastest goal in Premier League history

Bournemouth found both to their cost here, but having led for so long they left with nothing.

Nine seconds were on Arsenal’s famous old clock when Philip Billing’s goal, slower only than Shane Long for Southampton at Watford in 2019, stunned those still shifting from the concourse to their seats.

When Marco Senesi powered a header in at the second half for 2-0, it seemed that Manchester City would be roaring up behind Arsenal. But then came the fightback.

Unlikely scorers stood up for Mikel Arteta, with Thomas Partey and Ben White pulling them level before Nelson returned from four months out to win it.

Arteta had made three changes to his team, naming the first Arsenal lineup without a player that played under Arsene Wenger for 37 years. But while that closed the book on Wenger’s era, the opening nine seconds were a throwback to the defending of his final chapters.

Straight from kick-off, Dango Ouattara burst clear down the right before hitting a low cross towards the penalty spot. Gabriel stuck out his right foot, the ball squirted underneath it and dribbled into the path of Billing, who tapped in from six yards.

Billing's early goal shellshocked the fans at the Emirates, and it took the whole match for the Cherries to be finally undone

Billing's early goal shellshocked the fans at the Emirates, and it took the whole match for the Cherries to be finally undone

Marcos Senesi put the Cherries two goals to the good just before the hour mark, as they looked to spring a shock at Arsenal

Marcos Senesi put the Cherries two goals to the good just before the hour mark, as they looked to spring a shock at Arsenal

Arsenal's Thomas Partey pulled one back for the Gunners in the 62nd minute, as they sought to fight their way back from 0-2

Arsenal's Thomas Partey pulled one back for the Gunners in the 62nd minute, as they sought to fight their way back from 0-2

MATCH RATINGS

ARSENAL (4-3-3): Ramsdale 7; Tomiyasu 5 (White 46min, 6), Saliba 6, Gabriel 5, Zinchenko 6; Odegaard 6, Partey 7, Vieira 6; Saka 7.5, Trossard 6 (Smith Rowe 22, 6; NELSON 69, 8), Martinelli 6.

Subs (not used): Turner, Holding, Kiwior, Tierney, Jorginho, Xhaka.

Scorers: Partey 62, White 70, Nelson 90+7. 

Manager: Mikel Arteta 7.

BOURNEMOUTH (5-4-1): Neto 6; Smith 6, Mepham 6.5, Stephens 7, Senesi 7, Zemura 5 (Fredericks 64, 6); Ouattara 6.5 (Christie 82), Rothwell 6 (Cook 71, 6), Billing 7.5, Semenyo 6 (Anthony 64, 6); Solanke 6.

Subs (not used): Traver, Randolph, Stacey, Moore, Pollock. 

Scorers: Billing 1, Senesi 57. 

Booked: Neto, Mepham. 

Manager: Gary O’Neil 7.

Referee: Chris Kavanagh 6

Attendance: 60,222

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Instantly the Emirates crowd responded, but the shellshock was evident. A rapid reply led by Martin Odegaard saw his shot from the edge of the area saved by Neto, before Bukayo Saka hit the goalkeeper in the face on the rebound.

Bournemouth dropped into their base camp for their rest of the match, as though they had scored in the last minute rather than the first. 

Crammed like sardines in their own penalty area were 11 black shirts, and only three were given clearance for exit.

That was almost all they needed on 20 minutes, as Arsenal had pushed so high with Oleksandr Zinchenko in his usual inverted midfield role and Takehiro Tomiyasu overlapping Saka that the visitors even created a mismatch.

The excellent Billing strode onto a long clearance with Dom Solanke and Ouattara for company, and with only Arsenal’s centre backs to beat he slid it to the latter - but the Burkina Faso winger saw his shot brilliantly smothered by Aaron Ramsdale.

Down the other end the latest of 14 first-half shots was never far away, but Bournemouth’s deep block meant Odegaard, Fabio Vieira and Emile Smith Rowe - on for the injured Leandro Trossard - were limited to shots from distance.

Arsenal had two penalty shouts, but neither met VAR John Brooks’ threshold to be given. 

The first came when Chris Mepham went up for a header and came down with the ball resting on his arm, but was deemed to be in a natural position, and the second when Tomiyasu and Senesi collided, but the visiting centre back just made contact with the ball.

Arsenal had had 85 per cent possession in the first half but nothing to show for it. And just short of the hour, Bournemouth went further out of sight.

Joe Rothwell swung a corner from the left, Senesi got away from Partey and powered in his second goal for the club.

This time the Emirates was silent - but only for five minutes.

Neto punched clear a Saka corner only as far as Smith Rowe, who headed it back into the six-yard box and Partey slammed in to make it 2-1.

Ben White's 70th minute equaliser gave the Gunners hope, as dropped points would have damaged their title ambitions

Ben White's 70th minute equaliser gave the Gunners hope, as dropped points would have damaged their title ambitions

The Gunners firmly enjoyed the dramatic late finish to the game, which secured three points when everything felt lost

The Gunners firmly enjoyed the dramatic late finish to the game, which secured three points when everything felt lost

Neto, who had endeared himself to the Emirates as only a visiting goalkeeper can, claimed - contrary to all evidence - that he had been fouled in the build-up, but Chris Kavanagh took no notice other than to book him for his protests.

And the Brazilian’s misery was compounded with 20 minutes to play when Nelson, who came on when Smith Rowe made a return trip to the bench, crossed from the left and found White, who volleyed goalwards. His first goal for the club came was confirmed by goalline technology and the referee’s watch.

If it had been one-way traffic until that point, then the final 15 minutes were an IndyCar race. Stream after stream of Arsenal attacks rained down on Neto’s goal, though the Bournemouth player whose hand made the most telling intervention was Billing, perhaps lucky to get away without a penalty when he blocked Gabriel’s point-blank header.

Saka and Nelson, two Hale End kids, went time and again at the Bournemouth defence, and found the door slammed in their faces.

But when a corner at the last was headed out to Nelson, he drove it in left-footed and proved it’s not how you start, but how you finish.

 

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