Bedlam at the Emirates! Arsenal seize Champions League destiny after Lacazette late show

Lacazette Arsenal Wolves 2022Getty

The Arsenal fans inside the Emirates celebrated like they had just won the Champions League.

They hadn’t, of course, but they may well have just taken a giant stride back towards Europe’s elite club competition.

For 82 frustrating minutes against Wolves it looked like Mikel Arteta’s side were going to blow their big chance to seize the initiative in the battle for the top four.

Article continues below

Trailing to an early Hwang See-Chan strike, Arsenal battered constantly on the visitors’ door without finding a way through.

Wolves resisted attack after attack and seemed on course to seal the win they needed to move above Arsenal in the table.

But then the game turned on its head in thrilling fashion.

Nicolas Pepe, who had just come on, finally found a way through the Wolves rearguard to equalise and then - five minutes into stoppage time - Alexandre Lacazette’s effort was palmed into his own net by Wolves keeper Jose Sa.

It was bedlam at the Emirates.

Fans, who 15 minutes earlier thought they would be heading home reflecting on defeat, were embracing in the walkways celebrating what could be three huge points in the context of Arsenal's season.

Instead of sitting seventh in the Premier League and wasting a golden opportunity to take advantage of Tottenham’s slip up at Burnley, they sit fifth, just one point behind Manchester United with two games in hand.

Arteta’s side now have their Champions League destiny firmly in their own grasp.

Whether they go on to secure their spot in the top four remains to be seen, but there’s no doubt this was a massive night for the Gunners.

They have now won three games in a row in the Premier League since their winless January, beating Wolves twice in the process.

Arteta had called for a response after his team’s disappointing start to 2022 and he has certainly got one.

And the manner of this latest victory, secured in the most dramatic of fashion, can only add to the sense of momentum that is starting to build in North London.

Arsenal fell behind after just 10 minutes against Wolves when Hwang seized upon Gabriel’s slack back pass to round Aaron Ramsdale and score.

It was the worst possible start against a side who do not give up goals easily.

Chances to equalise came and went, with Gabriel Martinelli, Lacazette, Ben White and Bukayo Saka all having efforts before the break.

But the longer they went without scoring, the more you felt it was not going to be Arsenal’s night.

Wolves, who have not lost in the last 45 Premier League matches in which they had opened the scoring, were looking resilient.

But the introduction of Pepe and Eddie Nketiah changed things and it was the two substitutes who combined to draw Arsene level on 82 minutes, with Nketiah setting up Pepe for the equaliser.

Suddenly, the Emirates believed again and they got their grandstand finish five minutes into stoppage time when Lacazette broke through and fired in an effort which Sa could only turn into his own net.

It was a huge moment for Arsenal as the subsequent celebrations demonstrated.

The Champions League dream is very much alive.