Sanchez strikes twice as Arsenal beat Hull to boost chances of finishing second

Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring his side's opening goal at Hull

Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring his side's opening goal at Hull - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Hull City 1 Arsenal 3

Alexis Sanchez netted a first-half double as Arsenal saw off struggling Hull and strengthened their bid for the Premier League runners-up spot.

Sanchez opened the scoring at the KC Stadium with a deflected free-kick just before the half-hour and Aaron Ramsey continued his impressive record against Hull by making it 2-0 soon afterwards.

Ramsey set up the Chilean star to grab the visitors’ third goal in first-half injury time and, although Stephen Quinn pulled one back after the break, Arsenal ran out comfortable winners.

There were few scoring opportunities in a muted opening quarter of the game, although Hull goalkeeper Steve Harper had to be alert to field a back-heeled volley from team-mate Tom Huddlestone.

A more conventional attempt at goal by Sanchez brought a diving stop from Harper soon afterwards while, at the other end, a number of tricky balls into the box gave the Gunners defence some headaches.

The best of those, from Robbie Brady, picked out Sone Aluko, but his header bounced harmlessly against Per Mertesacker – and Arsenal were soon in control with two deflected goals in the space of five minutes.

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First, Sanchez pounced on a stray pass from Tom Huddlestone and was halted by Jake Livermore’s foul, rising to take the resulting free-kick that flicked the head of Michael Dawson and spun over the helpless Harper.

And the Gunners’ second was created by a superb crossfield pass from Santi Cazorla to find Ramsey, who swivelled and fired a shot that looped off the challenging Brady into the corner of the net.

Suddenly Arsenal, with Cazorla and Ramsey pulling the strings, were able to carve open their hosts’ defence at will and Harper came to the rescue to foil Mesut Ozil and then Sanchez in one on ones.

But the keeper could do nothing to prevent Sanchez making it 3-0 on the stroke of half-time, gliding onto Ramsey’s through ball and rounding Harper to slot home.

When the teams re-emerged, the only question appeared to be whether the Gunners could increase their lead and Ramsey almost did just that, firing wide after a one-two with Cazorla.

But Hull suddenly reduced the deficit in the 56th minute as Laurent Koscielny came off worse in a challenge with David Meyler and left a gap that Ahmed Elmohamady exploited, whipping over a cross for Quinn to head home.

And Arsenal’s advantage would have become somewhat slender had Paul McShane’s header, from another Elmohamady cross soon afterwards, not whistled over the bar.

The visitors sent on Jack Wilshere for his first senior appearance since November and the England international was immediately involved with a couple of incisive runs, one of which set up a chance that Cazorla poked straight at the keeper.

Wilshere might even have crowned his comeback with a late goal when Harper palmed Hector Bellerin’s drive into his path, but the volley was blocked by James Chester.

Arsenal: Ospina; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Cazorla, Coquelin; Ramsey (Wilshere 69), Ozil, Sanchez; Giroud (Walcott 87).

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