Arsenal 1 Tottenham 1: Jol shrugs off 'liar' taunt as Spurs close on the prize

Controversial goal sparks Arsenal manager's attack
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The last north London derby at Highbury and surely the most dramatic, the most incendiary and - in some ways - the most bizarre. It ended with Arsène Wenger calling Martin Jol a "liar" because, of all things, the Tottenham Hotspur head coach claimed he had not seen an incident.

That was the build-up to the Spurs goal. Those events will be replayed and replayed and will split opinion just as often. The draw, the first time Spurs have not lost at Arsenal in seven years, means that the visitors qualified for next season's Uefa Cup. They have not done that through the League since 1983, but there is a far greater prize that is now tantalisingly close: fourth place, and with it the Champions' League.

Only a collapse or Arsenal winning the European Cup can prevent that. It is just another compelling storyline to the most compelling of afternoons, which also saw Edgar Davids - the goal's architect - dismissed for two yellow cards, while both Jens Lehmann and Robert Pires escaped censure for accosting the old pitbull. Both could have been sent off.

Added to that was an injury to Philippe Senderos, who landed awkwardly on his knee, Wenger saying later that he is out of the semi-final second leg against Villarreal on Tuesday. Spurs have their own worries, with Jol reveal-ing that Jermaine Jenas, who was omitted, might be suffering a hairline fracture to his shin. But he insisted the midfielder would be fit for the World Cup.

Then there was Thierry Henry's wonderful goal, after the Arsenal captain had started on the bench, one of five changes as Wenger stated where his priorities lie ahead of the trip to Spain. Henry celebrated in front of the Spurs fans. The Frenchman then said - in jest, we hope - that he would not present Michael Carrick with the man- of-the-match champagne "bec-ause of the goal". "I cannot give him the whole bottle," said Henry.

Finally there were the most extraordinary scenes in the directors' box, with Arsenal's managing director, Keith Edelman, threatening to evict some of the Spurs party because of their celebrations. That was truly ridiculous, and a little shameful.

At the end Jol puffed out his cheeks and said of Wenger: "Irrespective of the rights or wrongs I don't think a manager should behave like that. He called me a liar and I'm not a liar. I have not seen it [the collision between two Arsenal players] because I was watching Edgar Davids."

Wenger stalked off down the tunnel, refusing to shake Jol's hand, and the Spurs coach said that all would be forgotten once the Arsenal manager "acts normal". For his part, Wenger was still simmering with rage and effectively called for the game to be replayed, accusing Spurs of defying the "convention" of putting the ball out of play for an injury.

Jol was correct in saying it was a shame it would overshadow a remarkable performance from his team, who took the contest to Arsenal. In the first half, in particular, Aaron Lennon gave Mathieu Flamini the most torrid of games since the Frenchman was moved to left-back. Lennon dragged a shot wide, then brilliantly beat Senderos to tee up Jermain Defoe, who struck for goal when he should have passed to the unmarked Davids. Then Defoe was played in, only for his shot to strike Lehmann in the face before Carrick set off on a brilliant run, beating four players before shooting into the side-netting.

Arsenal struggled to gain control. Gilberto Silva flashed a header wide and then, in the second half, released Robin van Persie. One on one with Paul Robinson, the Dutchman flicked his shot beyond the post.

Arsenal paid a heavy price. Carrick whisked the ball beyond Gilberto and Emmanuel Eboué, who ran into each other, and slid it to Teemu Tainio, who found Davids. He struck a fine, low cross which was swept in at the far post by Robbie Keane. Ars-enal were incensed, feeling that their players were hurt and Spurs should have stopped play. Carrick was unequivocal. "I thought they just fell over. I didn't realise they were injured," he said.

Fuelled by a sense of injustice, Arsenal piled forward. Emman-uel Adebayor tricked his way past Paul Stalteri and smartly found Henry, who showed masterful balance to flick the ball in. Arsenal laid siege, Davids was dismissed for clattering Cesc Fabregas, but Spurs held on. Whatever the controversy, they were worth the result.

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