McFadden makes Gunners pay the penalty
McFadden's controversial spot-kick added to his earlier free-kick to cancel out Theo Walcott's two second-half goals, that looked to have earned Arsenal their fifth successive league victory.sports Updated: Feb 23, 2008 21:52 IST
James McFadden's injury-time penalty secured a vital point for ten-man Birmingham City in a 2-2 draw with Arsenal that could have done serious damage to the Gunners' bid to reclaim the Premier League title.
And to add to the frustration for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, he will be without Eduardo for the rest of the season after the striker suffered a suspected broken leg in a challenge that resulted in Birmingham defender Martin Taylor being sent off.
McFadden's controversial spot-kick added to his earlier free-kick to cancel out Theo Walcott's two second-half goals, that looked to have earned Arsenal their fifth successive league victory.
Eduardo, just two days away from his 25th birthday, was left in agony after only three minutes of the game as a result of Taylor's lunge.
The Brazilian-born Croatian striker's left ankle was facing the wrong way and his leg break was such an horrific sight that team mate Cesc Fabregas was forced to shield his eyes, while Alexander Hleb and Emanuel Adebayor screamed for assistance for their injured colleague.
Eduardo had to be given morphine by paramedics and was treated for eight minutes on the pitch before he was able to be stretchered off wearing an oxygen mask.
Taylor was shown a straight red card by referee Mike Dean, although the tackle was not two-footed and seemingly not malicious and the central defender was said to be 'distraught' by members of Birminghams staff.
The loss of the 12-goal striker, signed for 7.5 million pounds from Dynamo Zagreb in the close season, is a major blow and Arsenal were subdued for the remainder of the first half.
Their mood was not improved by McFadden's second goal for Birmingham since his five-million-pound arrival from Everton in January.
The Scottish international produced a wonderful curling free kick to beat Spanish 'keeper Manuel Almunia after he had been fouled on the edge of the area by Mathieu Flamini.
But Birmingham's hopes of ending a seven-game sequence without a victory disappeared in a six minute spell early in the second half as Arsenal finally found their rhythm and Walcott turned a frustrating performance into goals.
It seemed only a matter of how long Birmingham could hold out and they managed just four minutes of the second half before Maik Taylor failed to collect Cesc Fabregas' corner, under a challenge from Adebayor.
The rebound from the aerial combat fell back into the six-yard box and Walcott flicked out his right leg to level the match.
Fabregas struck the post with a shot from just inside the area as Birmingham's defence struggled to cope with the onslaught and Taylor was beaten again when Liam Ridgewell failed to intercept the Spanish midfielder's long pass.
His mis-control presented the ball directly to Walcott and the young England international sped forward before dispatching a low left-foot shot into the bottom corner.
Arsenal appeared home and dry but they were pegged back in controversial circumstances right at the death.
With the match entering the fourth minute of stoppage time, Arsenal's French left-back, Gael Clichy, was adjudged by referee Dean to have fouled Stuart Parnaby as the Birmingham midfielder burst into the box.
Television replays showed Clichy had played the ball before Parnaby fell over his leg but Arsenal's furious protests fell on deaf ears and McFadden sent the spot-kick high into the net to claim the most unlikely of points for his relegation-haunted club.