Leno howler gifts Everton win as Arsenal lose more ground in race for Europe

Bernd Leno error Arsenal v Everton TEAMtalk

An error from Bernd Leno saw Everton win 1-0 at the Emirates and apply more pressure on those above them in the race for the Champions League spots, leaving Arsenal way behind the pack.

Leno spilled Richarlison’s cross through his own legs in the 76th minute to give the Toffees the lead from what was one of their only attacks of the second half.

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The result leaves the Gunners in ninth and six points behind eighth placed Everton with just five games remaining in their Premier League season.

Leno’s spill came at a time when Arsenal were looking as strong as they had done all game, although it had been a fairly uneventful contest.

In fact, it took until the 18th minute for either of them to create a clear opening. When it came, it fell to Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka, but his shot from a tight angle was kept out by Jordan Pickford.

But the two biggest chances of the half fell to Everton, who could count themselves unfortunate not to be ahead at the break.

Richarlison created their first big moment in the 28th minute, cutting inside from the right and attempting to curl an effort into the bottom left corner, but Leno was on hand to make the stop. His save nearly fell straight into the path of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, but the striker could not react quick enough to turn the ball goalwards.

Gylfi Sigurdsson, fresh from his double against Tottenham earlier in the week, then came within inches of getting his name on the scoresheet five minutes before the interval.

Sigurdsson Everton TEAMtalk

After Thomas Partey fouled Richarlison, the midfielder tried his luck from long-range with a dipping free kick which crashed off the top of the crossbar.

The Icelandic international was involved early in the second half too, arriving in the box late to get on the end of Seamus Coleman’s cut-back after some fine build-up play from the Toffees, but his strike was blocked behind for a corner.

But having started the half on top, the visitors gave Arsenal the chance to take the lead when they conceded a penalty for a Richarlison foul on Dani Ceballos. Or so they thought, the decision to award the spot kick was overturned as another contentious VAR review found Nicolas Pepe to be offside earlier in the phase of play.

Minutes later, Carlo Ancelotti’s men launched a penalty appeal of their own when a cross appeared to be blocked by an Arsenal hand, but the officials said no.

Arsenal were on top from that point, almost forcing an own goal through Mason Holgate in the 58th minute before Calum Chambers went close after being picked out from a free kick in the 64th, but he could not control his shot and it cleared the bar.

Ceballos forced Pickford into another save shortly after with a shot from distance, which the England international turned away with a diving stop.

But just as Arsenal looked to be establishing themselves as the team most likely to go on and win, Everton hit the front with a rare second half venture forward in a moment Gunners ‘keeper Leno will soon hope to forget.

A long ball over the top put Richarlison in space, and he burst into the box after easily skipping past the retreating Granit Xhaka. From a tight angle, the Brazilian played an aimless cross across the box which should have been simple for Leno to gather, but he made a huge mess of it buy fumbling through his legs and into the goal.

Richarlison Everton TEAMtalk

Another VAR review followed, but Richarlison was ruled to be onside meaning the goal stood.

Willian came on for Chambers in the closing stages as Arsenal pushed for an equaliser, and Gabriel Martinelli almost got it when he poked the ball towards goal in the 94th minute, but Pickford threw out a strong arm to make the save.

And Mikel Arteta’s side were ultimately unable drag themselves back level as they fell to a potentially costly defeat on their own turf.