- Associated Press - Sunday, April 29, 2018

MANCHESTER, England (AP) - Arsene Wenger endured more agony at Old Trafford as his depleted Arsenal side conceded an injury-time goal by Marouane Fellaini to lose 2-1 to Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday.

Fellaini headed in Ashley Young’s inswinging cross in the first minute of added-on time to deny Wenger a point in his final trip to United’s stadium before he leaves Arsenal after more than 21 years in charge.

This was nothing like the 8-2 loss in 2011 or the 6-1 defeat here in 2001, but it was painful nevertheless for Wenger on a day he was honored with a glass vase before kickoff by former United manager Alex Ferguson and embraced by the current one, long-time foe Jose Mourinho.

Mourinho had the last laugh against Wenger, as he has so often, and the win moved United five points clear in second place, virtually guaranteeing second place behind champion Manchester City.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan marked his return to Old Trafford with an equalizing goal as Arsenal - fielding a largely second-string team in view of the Europa League semifinal second leg on Thursday - responded well to conceding a 16th-minute goal from Paul Pogba.

Mkhitaryan never established himself in 18 months at United and was deemed surplus to requirements by Mourinho in January, setting up a move to Arsenal in a swap deal that saw Alexis Sanchez go the other way.

The Armenia midfielder barely celebrated when he scored in the 51st minute. Sanchez set up Pogba’s goal by heading against the post.

This was once one of the must-see fixtures in English soccer, but the recent decline of Arsenal meant this edition lacked the bite and intensity of some of the past meetings of the two teams.

Even United fans’ welcoming of Wenger - they applauded him to and from the dug-out - said much about a game that meant little to Arsenal and felt like a pre-season match at times.

Wenger gave a senior debut to 20-year-old Greek defender Konstantinos Mavropanos and also started Ainsley Maitland-Niles, 20, and Reiss Nelson, 18, in a severely weakened lineup that might have been expected to cave in after conceding early.

Romelu Lukaku crossed to the far post where Sanchez planted his header - via the boot of Hector Bellerin - against the post. The ball rebounded out to Pogba, who sidefooted a volley into an empty net.

Arsenal didn’t collapse, though. The visitors were given a boost when Lukaku hobbled off in the 49th after being on the receiving end of a kick by Mavropanos, and then equalized.

Almost inevitably, it was Mkhitaryan who collected the ball from Granit Xhaka after United lost possession in midfield, advanced as the home defense backed off, and slammed a low shot into the far corner from the edge of the area.

Marcus Rashford had a goal ruled out for offside moments before Fellaini glanced Young’s cross into the corner.


Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide