Wed | Aug 16, 2017

Giroud points to luck after 'scorpion' spectacle

Published:Monday | January 2, 2017 | 1:00 AM

LONDON (AP):

Olivier Giroud scored an exquisite goal from an overhead back-heeled strike as Arsenal beat struggling Crystal Palace 2-0 yesterday to rise to third in the English Premier League.

"I have maximum luck," Giroud said of his "scorpion" kick. "It's just about luck."

Such a moment of exceptional quality could help Giroud convince manager Arsene Wenger to play him more.

"(Giroud) brings the unexpected, and we all come to football to get the unexpected," Wenger said.

Opportunities don't come often for the France forward since dropping down the pecking order. But with Mesut Ozil ill in bed, Wenger had little choice but to start Giroud for the second consecutive game in the packed festive programme.

Giroud, who netted on his first-league start of the season against West Bromwich Albion last Monday, beat Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey after 18 minutes.

Alexis Sanchez whipped in a cross from the left flank and Giroud connected with a back-heeled flick that sent the ball up against the underside of the bar and into the net.

"It was the only thing I could do," Giroud said. "The ball was behind me and I tried to hit it with a backheel."

Giroud had also played a role during the sweeping counterattack that started inside Arsenal's own half and ended with the opening goal.

"Olivier transformed that goal into art," Wenger said. "Art because of the surprise, because the beauty of the movement and because the efficiency of the movement - the ball went in."

EYE-CATCHING GOALS

Few goals will be as eye-catching all season. Scoring again, though, was important at the chilly Emirates Stadium to prevent Palace from mounting a comeback.

It took until the 56th minute when Nacho Monreal's cross was scooped in the air by Scott Dann's interception, and Alex Iwobi headed past two Palace players on the goal line.

Palace remain two points from the relegation zone, with Sam Allardyce winless in his two matches in charge.

Arsenal's victory, combined with Tottenham's success at Watford, ensured Manchester City dropped out of the top-four Champions League places.

Arsenal, which travel to Bournemouth tomorrow, are nine points adrift of leaders Chelsea and three behind Liverpool.