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Adebayor to the rescue for Arsenal

Emmanuel Adebayor underlines his new-found significance to Arsenal by inspiring the comeback that earns his side a 2-2 draw with Portsmouth.

india Updated: Dec 16, 2006 23:22 IST

Emmanuel Adebayor underlined his new-found significance to Arsenal by inspiring the comeback that earned his side a 2-2 draw with Portsmouth on Saturday.

The Gunners were sliding towards a first ever defeat at the Emirates stadium after strikes either side of half-time from Noe Pamarot and Matt Taylor when Adebayor - who had surprisingly started the afternoon on the bench - sparked a stirring second-half fight-back.

The Togo international halved the arrears with his sixth goal of the season and then played a pivotal role in Gilberto's equaliser as Arsene Wenger's side extended their unbeaten league run to four matches.

Adebayor's electrifying performance denied Portsmouth a famous victory, but their manager Harry Redknapp will still see this as an invaluable point.

A draw maintains the club's shock charge towards Champions League qualification and keeps them just a point behind their hosts.

Wenger is the sort of manager whose gaze remains unflinchingly fixed on the future, but Pompey's visit offered poignant reminders of Arsenal's recent past.

With Kanu spearheading the visitors' attack, Sol Campbell bestriding the back-line and Tony Adams observing from the stands, even Wenger might have been tempted to reminisce.

Pompey's flying start to the season made this an unexpectedly significant occasion, yet Wenger still shuffled his squad, with Adebayor making way for Jeremie Aliadiere.

There was also an enforced change after five minutes when Theo Walcott replaced Freddie Ljungberg, the Swede hobbling off with a calf injury.

Even so, Arsenal began fluently enough. Pompey keeper David James was soon summoned into action, the 36-year-old reacting brilliantly to block Robin van Persie's header, and he frustrated the Dutchman again mid-way through the half when he parried his shot at point-blank range.

Not for the first time this season, Arsenal's youngsters were flustered by failing to seize an early advantage and Portsmouth began to exert control. Redknapp's team snapped into their challenges with greater urgency and, in first-half injury time, they were rewarded when Pamarot nodded in after David Thompson had struck the post.

But if Portsmouth were gifted their opener by typically shoddy Arsenal defending, their second just after the interval was entirely of their own making. After Thompson's cross-shot had not been properly cleared, Taylor - who is establishing a reputation for the spectacular - volleyed the bouncing ball into the top corner.

With a potentially crippling defeat looming, Wenger was spurred into action. Adebayor immediately replaced the ineffective Aliadiere and within 180 seconds the Togolese smashed in Walcott's cross from close range.

Arsenal smelled blood. Two minutes later, James could only slap away Kolo Toure's long-range drive and - after Adebayor's cross had caused havoc in the Portsmouth penalty area - Gilberto slid in the equaliser.

Portsmouth still had half-an-hour of pressure to endure, and it was unrelenting. Adebayor was only denied a certain goal by a superb last-ditch tackle from Glen Johnson, while van Persie and Alexander Hleb both shot into the side-netting when well placed.

First Published: Dec 16, 2006 23:22 IST