London: Arsenal strikers Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette inspired a stirring comeback against rivals Tottenham Hotspur to salvage a 2-2 draw in a thrilling north London Premier League derby on Sunday.
Spurs were looking to bounce back from a shock 1-0 home loss to Newcastle United and went ahead through Christian Eriksen and a Harry Kane penalty before Lacazette struck before the break and Aubameyang got a 71st minute equaliser.
Arsenal, who were beaten 3-1 at Liverpool last week, are in fifth place with seven points while Spurs are ninth on five after four games.
The visitors took a 10th minute lead when Eriksen knocked the ball into an empty net on the rebound, capitalising on some sloppy goalkeeping from Arsenal’s Bernd Leno, who could only parry Erik Lamela’s weak shot into the path of the Dane.
Arsenal had most of the ball on a sun-soaked afternoon at the Emirates Stadium but Tottenham were far more threatening on the break and Leno was forced to keep out stinging efforts from Kane and Eriksen in the first half.
“We played with our heart sometimes more than our head, we needed more balance, we needed to have clearer heads,” said Arsenal coach Unai Emery of his side’s first-half mistakes.
Tottenham were then awarded a penalty for a clumsy foul by Granit Xhaka on the lively Son Heung-min and Kane converted in the 40th minute to put Spurs on track for a first league win on enemy territory in nine years.
However, Arsenal’s France striker Lacazette halved the deficit right before halftime with an emphatic strike after controlling an exquisite pass from the club’s record signing Nicolas Pepe.
Kane came close to sealing the points for Tottenham when he struck the post but Arsenal became galvanised when Spanish midfielder Dani Ceballos came off the bench and hit a shot which keeper Hugo Lloris did well to tip over.
An equaliser looked ever likelier and duly arrived when Gabon striker Aubameyang prodded a lofted pass from Matteo Guendouzi into the net in the 71st minute, scoring a third goal in four Premier League games this season.
“It was an amazing match. We are proud of our work and our supporters,” added Emery.
“The key was the first goal to give us confidence and give us more chances in the second half. We deserved it.”
Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino also felt Lacazette’s timely goal was pivotal.
“Conceding with the last action of the first half gave relief to Arsenal and was an emotional hit to us, we were very down, before our emotions were very high and football is all about emotion,” he said.
Arsenal’s Sokratis Papastathopoulos later had a goal ruled out for offside while Tottenham’s Moussa Sissoko spurned a last-gasp chance in a thrilling finale by blasting over the bar after Kane was denied a penalty when he tangled with Sokratis.
Tottenham striker Kane said his side were disappointed to have let their lead slip.
“I feel like we’re coming off disappointed, we expected to see the game out,” he told reporters.
“The (Lacazette) goal hurt us with momentum just before the break. It was an end-to-end game, especially the last 10-15 minutes, but the players left everything on the pitch.”
The England international also felt he should have been awarded a second penalty.
“As a striker, if it is on halfway (line) it is a definite foul. In the box you don’t always get them,” he added.
Aubameyang, meanwhile, said Arsenal should have come away with more than a point.
“I think in the first half we deserved to score two goals,” he said. “It was a tough game and I think we deserved more.”