CRYSTAL Palace were denied a battling point away at Arsenal this evening, when Aaron Ramsey popped up with the winning goal in added-on time. It was a gritty and plucky display from the Eagles, who were still getting over the shock of Tony Pulis' departure 48 hours ago. However, under caretaker boss Keith Millen, they looked bright in the first half and shocked the Emirates with the opener. Laurent Koscielny brought the scores level on the stroke of half-time, and despite having most of the possession in the second half, Arsenal struggled to break down a resolute Palace defence. But their hearts were broken in the first of five added-on minutes when Aaron Ramsey tapped home from close range. Palace nearly shocked the Emirates inside just ten seconds from kick-off, when Yannick Bolasie attacked down the left and played in Fraizer Campbell, but Laurent Koscielny got across in time to snuff out the danger. Arsenal soon got into their stride and were denied a penalty claim when Aaron Ramsey went down under pressure from Scott Dann. Palace hit back though when Jason Puncheon fired in a cross towards the near post for Campbell, only for Szczesny to gather in the nick of time. The Eagles began to get into the game as Arsenal's fast start was slowed down significantly, with the likes of Mile Jedinak and Joe Ledley working their socks off to nullify Ramsey and Santi Cazorla. Julian Speroni, given the nod ahead of Wayne Hennessey, was called into action on the half-hour mark with a good save down to his right to deny Jack Wilshere. But several minutes later, the Eagles shocked north London by taking the lead thanks to superb glancing header from Brede Hangeland on his debut. Getting away from Alexis Sanchez, the centre-back got past another two Arsenal players to rise and head home into the far corner. With Palace looking to take their lead into the half-time break, they were brought back down to Earth when Laurent Koscielny equalised in added-on time. The Frenchman got in behind the Palace defence, notably Hangeland, to nod into the bottom corner, with Speroni helpless. Into the second period and the Eagles started brightly. Arsenal continued to attack only to be thwarted by Palace's continued doggedness. Puncheon scuffed a shot on goal after excellent play from Marouane Chamakh to turn Callum Chambers on the edge of the box, but then the Gunners penned Palace back for a good 20-minute spell. However, despite the majority of possession in their favour, they couldn't break the Palace defence. Speroni got down to save from Sanchez and Ramsey, while Palace assistant manager Keith Millen could be seen mulling over whether to make a change, possibly to pack the midfield. Instead, he had to replace the injured Scott Dann with Damien Delaney as the clocked neared the 80-minute mark. Debutant Martin Kelly went into the referees' book for a late challenge on Sanchez, and from the Chilean's set-play, Arsenal couldn't convert at the back post. The Eagles just couldn't get out of their own half with ten minutes remaining, as Arsenal looked to stretch them left and right. Olivier Giroud nearly created a winner when he delivered a fizzing ball across the six-yard box but luckily for Palace no one was there to convert. Dwight Gayle replaced Camobell with five minutes remaining, and the striker nearly set Chamakh and Bolasie away with a fine ball, but Nacho Monreal got back to head back to Szczesny. And with a minute to go, Puncheon was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence, this time going late on Monreal. It got worse as Arsenal popped up with the winner in 90th-minute. Speroni pulled off a fine reaction save, but the ball fell to Ramsey to tap home and send the Emirates crazy. A cruel, cruel blow for the Eagles, who probably deserved to take away a point after a battling display, just 48 hours after their manager departed.
Palace: Speroni, Kelly, Ward, Hangeland, Dann (Delaney 75), Jedinak ©, Ledley, Puncheon, Bolasie (O'Keefe 90), Chamakh, Campbell (Gayle 85).
Subs Not Used: Hennessey, McCarthy, Bannan, Murray.
Sent off: Puncheon
By Croydon Advertiser Sports Reporter Mark Ritson