Koscielny comes to the rescue again as Arsenal fight back for Napoli draw
- Credit: PA
Emirates Cup: Arsenal 2 Napoli 2
Laurent Koscielny headed a late equaliser as Arsenal recovered a two-goal deficit to share the spoils on the opening day of the Emirates Cup.
The French defender – whose goal at Newcastle on the last day of last season secured the Gunners’ Champions League place – came to his side’s rescue again after they had trailed 2-0 at half-time.
Lorenzo Insigne and Goran Pandev both scored for the Serie A side, with Lukas Podolski missing a penalty in between, before the in-form Olivier Giroud made it 2-1 and Koscielny levelled four minutes from time.
Apart from the penalty, the Gunners’ best chances in the first half fell to Serge Gnabry, who poked just wide of the far post in the third minute and then latched onto a poor clearance from Pepe Reina, but chipped onto the roof of the net.
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By then, Arsenal were behind as Carl Jenkinson misjudged what looked an innocuous cross from the right and the ball looped up for Insigne, who tucked it first time beyond Lukasz Fabianski.
The home side were handed a golden opportunity to equalise in the 19th minute, when former West Ham man Valon Behrami held back Kieran Gibbs in the penalty area.
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Referee Kevin Friend pointed to the spot, but Podolski drilled his kick straight at Reina and Miguel Britos scrambled the rebound behind.
At the other end, Jenkinson was fortunate to get away with what looked a clearer push on Pandev than the one on Gibbs – but the Macedonian soon made amends by scoring Napoli’s second on 29 minutes.
Playmaker Marek Hamsik scythed through the Gunners’ midfield and released Pandev, who took the ball around Fabianski with his first touch, controlled with his second and then tucked in a left-foot finish.
Arsenal struggled to get back in the game before half-time, with Reina clawing away a Per Mertesacker header before Aaron Ramsey fired into the net, but was correctly called offside.
The home side improved after the break as Jack Wilshere wriggled into the penalty area and shot wide, then Giroud’s close-range free-kick was charged down.
The introductions of Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mikel Arteta gave the Gunners a bit more zip and they finally halved the deficit with 18 minutes remaining.
Giroud’s effort was pushed behind by Reina and, from the resulting corner, the French striker unleashed a bicycle kick that took a deflection off Bacary Sagna on its way over the line.
And Koscielny ensured that the spoils were shared as he raced in to nod home in the 86th minute after Mertesacker’s initial header had been parried by Reina.
Earlier, Galatasaray – Arsenal’s opponents in their second match of the tournament on Sunday – had triumphed 1-0 against Portuguses champions Porto.
Arsenal: Fabianski; Jenkinson(Sagna 56), Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Ramsey (Oxlade-Chamberlain 63); Gnabry (Walcott 56), Rosicky, Wilshere (Arteta 63), Podolski (Akpom 87); Giroud.