Football: Wright's day is soured by Hartson

Arsenal 2 Middlesbrough 0

Arsenal's first victory for nearly a month, courtesy of goals by Dennis Bergkamp and Ian Wright yesterday, takes them to within two points of the Premiership leaders Liverpool. But not for the first time this season there was a sour post-script to their performance.

John Hartson, who had replaced Bergkamp midway through the second half, was sent off in the final minute for dissent. Bryan Robson, the Middlesbrough player-manager making a rare appearance, had tussled with Hartson in the Boro penalty area. The referee, Mike Reed, saw nothing untoward but Hartson was not happy and made his feelings known. He was booked and less than a minute later shown the red card for what can only have been an extremely foolish comment to the referee. It was Arsenal's fourth sending- off in their last eight games.

Prior to that Arsenal had made heavy weather of what had looked like becoming a rout. Robson, 10 days short of his 40th birthday, became the oldest outfield player to have appeared in the Premiership, but his task in the middle of Boro's defence looked more onerous as the first half wore on.

There were chances for both sides before Bergkamp's splendid opening goal. First Fabrizio Ravanelli shot just over with a free kick from fully 30 yards, then a great run by Paul Merson in the inside-left position ended with him slipping the ball through for Wright. His pull-back from the byline was promising but Robson slid in with the first of several outstanding interceptions.

After a quarter of an hour the Boro defence was breached. Martin Keown's long ball was aimed for Wright but he was beaten in the air by Steve Vickers. The loose ball dropped invitingly for Bergkamp, and the Dutchman drove a sumptuous right-footed volley from the edge of the penalty area past Gary Walsh's flailing right hand.

Juninho hit back for Boro and Keown did well to clear the danger when the little Brazilian released Ravanelli. A foul by Tony Adams on Ravanelli then gave the Italian another chance from distance, but this time the free-kick was easily gathered by John Lukic.

Middlesbrough then sat back and sacrificed the initiative, content to attack on the break. It was a dangerous policy. After being caught marginally offside, Wright was denied twice.

But just when it looked as though the visitors would reach the sanctuary of half- time relatively unscathed, that man Wright scored his 200th League goal in typical fashion. Merson's cross from the left put Mikkel Beck under pressure from Ray Parlour. Beck could only head the ball back into the danger area and Wright once again was in the right place at the right time to poke the ball past Walsh.

Middlesbrough were more of a threat in the second half but it was still a surprise when Ravanelli won a penalty with 13 minutes to go. Juninho threaded a lovely pass through to Ravanelli, he stepped inside Patrick Vieira's challenge but the Frenchman left his foot there and Ravanelli tumbled over. Up stepped the Italian, captain for the day, but his shot ricocheted off the crossbar high into the North stand.

"We should have killed the game before that," Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, said. "If he had scored, the last 15 minutes would have been difficult for us. We had problems to link our game, to get four or five passes in a row."

With Wright now starting a three-game suspension, Hartson automatically suspended for three and a lengthening injury list, linking their game might prove the least of Arsenal's problems in the coming weeks.

Arsenal (3-5-2): Lukic; Keown, Adams, Bould; Parlour, Garde (Morrow, 75), Vieira, Merson (Shaw,79), Winterburn; Bergkamp (Hartson, 64), Wright. Substitutes not used: Linighan, Bartram (gk).

Middlesbrough (3-5-2): Walsh; Cox, Robson, Vickers; Liddle, Mustoe, Emerson, Blackmore, Beck; Juninho (Hignett, 79), Ravanelli. Substitutes not used: Fjortoft, Roberts, Morris, Freestone (gk).

Referee: M Reed (Birmingham).

IAN WRIGHT'S LEAGUE DOUBLE CENTURY

Crystal Palace

Season Matches Goals

1985-86 32 9

1986-87 38 8

1987-88 41 20

1988-89 42 24

1989-90 26 8

1990-91 38 15

1991-92 8 5

Total 225 89

Arsenal

1991-92 30 24

1992-93 31 15

1993-94 39 23

1994-95 31 18

1995-96 31 15

1996-97 21 16

Total 183 111

Career 408 200

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin visits her 1990s work ‘My Bed’ at Tate Britain in London, where it is back on display from today
artsBut how does the iconic work stand up, 16 years on?
Life and Style
life + style
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor