Arsenal seal comeback win
Arsenal came thundering back from two-down at half-time to record a pulsating 3-2 victory over Aston Villa in the fourth round of the FA Cup, with captain Robin van Persie netting a brace.
After the Gunners were booed off at the interval by the Emirates crowd, they produced the sort of comeback that could re-energise a season that was on the ropes after three consecutive league defeats.
Arsenal had a couple of chances in the first half an hour, with Theo Walcott pulling a shot wide inside the area, but it was a laboured performance from the hosts - and Villa punished them on 33 minutes when, on a rare attack, Richard Dunne nodded them into the lead at the back post following a short-corner routine.
The Gunners roused themselves in the minutes prior to half time, with Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain having shots well saved by Shay Given. But in injury time at the end of the opening period, Darren Bent heaped more woe on Arsenal: latching onto Stephen Ireland's pass, he converted at the second attempt after Lukasz Fabianski could only parry his first strike.
Van Persie gave Arsenal a lifeline early in the second half, converting from the spot following Dunne's wild slide tackle on Ramsey; the Irishman was lucky to stay on the pitch, having already been booked. And three minutes later, the sides were level as Theo Walcott benefitted from a huge slice of luck, Alan Hutton's clearance ricocheting off him and into the unguarded net.
The turnaround was complete on the hour when Van Persie scored - again from the spot - after Laurent Koscielny was clumsily brought down by Bent. The Gunners, once so dominant, looked nervous as they dropped deep late in the second half - but apart from Ciaran Clark's header, Villa failed to test Fabianski.
Fraizer Campbell emerged from his latest bout of injury misery to keep Sunderland's FA Cup dreams alive with a 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough. The former Manchester United striker was introduced as a half-time substitute, in the process making his first senior appearance since August 2010 as a result of two serious knee injuries.
He needed just 18 minutes to make an impact, sliding the ball past Boro keeper Danny Coyne from James McClean's pinpoint pass to cancel out Barry Robson's first-half opener.
The Black Cats had earlier seen a Craig Gardner strike controversially ruled out, but their Championship neighbours were good value for a replay after a full-blooded fourth-round contest. The winner of the replay will host Arsenal in the fifth round.