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Arsenal escapes from Burnley thanks to controversial stoppage-time penalty

A valiant 90-minute performance from Premier League upstart Burnley against blueblood Arsenal was undone by one regrettable moment. One rush of blood. One mistake. One referee’s whistle. And inches.

Arsenal escaped from Turf Moor with a 1-0 victory thanks to a controversial stoppage-time penalty, won by Aaron Ramsey, and converted by Alexis Sanchez.

A minute into stoppage time, with the Clarets holding out for a draw, center back James Tarkowski bundled over Ramsey as the two lunged for a ball in the six-yard box. The Welsh midfielder tumbled to the grass, and referee Lee Mason pointed to the spot.

Sead Kolasinac’s centering header ultimately sailed slightly over the heads of both Ramsey and Tarkowski. But Ramsey had gotten goal-side of Tarkowski – even if only just – and the Burnley defender’s arms did make significant contact with Ramsey’s back.


Sanchez’s penalty then barely skipped under the outstretched right arm of Burnley keeper Nick Pope.

Burnley manager Sean Dyche fumed silently at the final whistle, stalking across the pitch after a curt handshake with Arsene Wenger. He fumed at the penalty decision, surely. But perhaps more so because he felt his side’s performance deserved something – a draw, maybe even a win. The hosts weren’t the better team on the day, but they had done enough to put themselves in position to potentially steal three points themselves.

Had Tarkowski left his arms by his side, Ramsey’s venture into the box likely would have been harmless, and Burnley would have procured a fourth result from five games against the top six. It has been the season’s surprise package, having already won at Chelsea and Everton. It battled to score draws at Liverpool and Tottenham.

Arsenal was the first of the Big Six to visit Turf Moor, which has been built into a fortress by the scrappy Clarets. They won 10 of their 19 Premier League home games there last season, a record that kept them in the top flight. They’ve replicated that form away from home in their second season back in the first division.

It was therefore a tough task for Arsenal, and one the visitors handled relatively well. With Mesut Ozil ill, they lacked creativity, but were up for the fight. They withstood a spirited and strong first-half performance from the hosts, and grew into the game after halftime. They bossed the second half.

But Dyche and Burnley have become the masters of securing points while seemingly second-best. They appeared set to pull off another upset of sorts. Arsenal only managed two shots on target all afternoon. But it was the constant pressure, rather than the shooting, that ultimately paid off.

Aaron Ramsey wins the penalty that allowed Arsenal to beat Burnley. (Getty)

In the end, the 1-0 win is a fantastic one for Arsenal – away from home, against what might legitimately be the seventh-best team in the league. It takes Arsene Wenger’s men up to fourth place, ahead of Tottenham, and a point back from Chelsea in third.

It’s the kind of result they might have been on the other end of in weeks, months and years past. Instead, it’s yet another emblem of a successful recovery from early-season disappointment and hysteria.

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Henry Bushnell covers soccer – the U.S. national teams, the Premier League, and much, much more – for FC Yahoo and Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at henrydbushnell@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.