Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey netted a dramatic stoppage-time winner to finally break the resistance of managerless Crystal Palace.
Ramsey smashed the ball home from close range as Arsenal came from behind to win their Premier League opener 2-1 at Emirates Stadium.
Defeat was harsh on Palace, who had produced a determined display at the end of a difficult few days following the shock departure of manager Tony Pulis on the eve of the new season.
Indeed, a first-half header from Brede Hangeland, one of the few summer signings sanctioned by chairman Steve Parish, had put the hard-working Eagles ahead.
Laurent Koscielny flicked home a free kick from Chile forward Alexis Sanchez to level before the break.
Arsenal lacked a cutting edge in the final third, creating only a few half-chances before Ramsey was on hand to slot home after Mathieu Debuchy’s shot was saved – after Jason Puncheon had been sent off for a second yellow card.
Match-winner Ramsey told the BBC: “They were very hard to break down. They lost their manager earlier in the week, but you would never have known that.
“Tony Pulis got them playing really well and they picked up a lot of points towards the end of last season.
“You could see they were well organised and it was difficult, but we came away with the three points.
“The last few seasons we struggled in the first game of the season and we nearly did today. It was important we kept on trying and we came away with the win.
“I didn’t have the best of games but I kept on trying, kept getting into the right areas and finally, in the 93rd minute, it went in.”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger added: “They made it very difficult, they defended very well and took their first opportunity.
“After that they made it very tight, they were physically very strong and we needed to keep going.
“Our desire got us through.
“If you look at the results today, no home team won, we were the only one so it shows in the first game it is not easy to win.
“The Champions League qualifier is massive game for us next week against Besiktas, we have a short time to recover. Normally the German players would not play in that game. We will have to see on Sunday, but only in case of emergency.”
Defender Eric Dier said he had surprised even himself by being the man who ran through to score Tottenham Hotspur’s winning goal in their 1-0 triumph at West Ham United on Saturday.
Dier, 20, who was making his Tottenham debut at right-back, ran on to a Harry Kane pass in stoppage time and calmly rounded West Ham goalkeeper Adrian to score.
Dier, who had joined the club in a £4 million (Dh24.5m) deal from Sporting Lisbon, told the BBC: “I am not sure why I was up in attack to be honest.
“I’m told the assistant boss said to the manager: ‘What’s he doing there’, and even I don’t know why I was there. I don’t normally get into those positions.”
It gave Mauricio Pochettino a winning start as Tottenham manager in a match in which they had to play more than an hour with 10 men after Kyle Naughton was sent off for hand ball after blocking Kevin Nolan’s shot in the penalty area.
West Ham’s Mark Noble put the resulting penalty wide, and they also finished with 10 men as James Collins saw red for a second bookable offence.
Martinez concern for injured midfielder Barkley
Roberto Martinez fears he could be without Ross Barkley for up to five months. The England midfielder damaged the medial ligament in his right knee in training one day before their opening Premier League match against Leicester, which ended in a 2-2 draw on Saturday. Martinez said: ”We know it’s a partial tear, but that could be anything from seven weeks and I’ve seen injuries like that take four or five months.” Everton twice took the lead on Saturday through goals from Aidan McGeady and Steven Naismith but both times were hauled back by Leicester through Leonardo Ulloa and substitute Chris Wood.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Sebastian Larsson's late equaliser earned Sunderland a 2-2 draw at West Bromwich Albion.
Lee Cattermole’s long-range effort had given Gus Poyet’s side the lead, but West Brom, in Alan Irvine’s first game as manager, fought back through two goals from Saido Berahino to go in front, before Larsson levelled things.
Allan McGregor was Hull City's hero as he saved Charlie Austin's 82nd-minute penalty to give his side a 1-0 win at Queens Park Rangers.
James Chester had headed Hull ahead, but he was then judged to have handled the ball in the area, but McGregor guessed correctly to push away Austin’s spot-kick and ensure that Hull took the three points at Loftus Road.
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