Arsenal’s French striker Olivier Giroud (2nd R) and Arsenal’s Brazilian defender Gabriel (L) celebrate as Bournemouth’s South African-born English midfielder Andrew Surman (R) reacts after Giroud scores their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Bournemouth and Arsenal at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, southern England on January 3, 2017. The game finished 3-3. / AFP PHOTO
Olivier Giroud scored a stoppage-time equaliser as Arsenal fought back from 3-0 down to snatch a dramatic 3-3 draw at Bournemouth on Tuesday.
First-half efforts from Charlie Daniels and Callum Wilson, followed by a third from Ryan Fraser just after the break, appeared to put Bournemouth on course for their first victory over Arsenal.
But Alexis Sanchez and Lucas Perez were both on target before Giroud headed home late on to complete a sensational blitz of three Arsenal goals in the final 20 minutes.
Despite the thrilling revival Arsenal ultimately lost ground in the title race and are now eight points behind leaders Chelsea, who play their game in hand at Tottenham on Wednesday.
Arsenal were again missing Mesut Ozil due to illness, with boss Arsene Wenger claiming the German had been in bed for the last week.
It was Bournemouth who created the early chances and Josh King’s speculative effort went just wide before a powerful Junior Stanislas shot from distance was straight at Petr Cech.
Bournemouth fans were upset when Wilson went down in the area under a Cech challenge but television replays suggested the Arsenal goalkeeper had got a touch on it.
However, Eddie Howe’s side were celebrating on 16 minutes as they took the lead thanks to Daniels, who struck home left footed after getting the better of Hector Bellerin following a Stanislas crossfield pass.
It was 2-0 five minutes later as Bournemouth exposed more poor play at the back from Arsenal.
After a break from their own half, Granit Xhaka brought down Fraser as he was going away from goal and this time referee Michael Oliver awarded a penalty.
Wilson scored the spot-kick, his sixth of the season, despite appearing to stumble and fail to make the connection he wanted on the kick.
– Down to 10 men –
Arsenal responded with a Sanchez curler that went just wide but things were not going Wenger’s way with Francis Coquelin limping off injured.
Arsenal went close to pulling one back with a deflected Aaron Ramsey effort on the turn going wide.
The visitors had another chance late in the half as an Alex Iwobi scuffed effort did not find the target, while at the other end a Stanislas shot from the edge of the area went just wide of Cech’s post.
Arsenal came out in the second half with a real purpose but Bournemouth weathered the initial storm.
They were frustrated as Harry Arter’s powerful shot from range hit Wilson but was ruled out for handball despite the Bournemouth striker appearing to try and get out of the way of the drive.
But Bournemouth went on to take a 3-0 lead on 58 minutes as Bellerin was beaten by Fraser from Daniels’ ball down the channel and the young Bournemouth winger cut in before slotting past Cech.
It could still have got worse for Arsenal with a Stanislas free-kick kept out by Cech.
However, Arsenal got back in the game on 70 minutes as Giroud headed on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross and Sanchez nodded home at the far post.
Wenger’s side then set up an exciting finish as substitute Perez’s volley from another Giroud flick beat Artur Boruc.
Bournemouth were left to hang on when skipper Simon Francis was sent off for a lunge on Ramsey.
But they could not do that as Giroud headed home in the second minute of stoppage time from Xhaka’s cross.