Liverpool grabbed a late equaliser to earn a 3-3 draw against Arsenal during Wednesday's Premier League action, as Joe Allen became the hero with a late strike.
Roberto Firmino had twice given the Reds the lead in the first half, but Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud put the Gunners back on equal terms before the latter gave the visitors the lead. Arsenal seemed to be cruising to the win, but a late goal from Allen gave Liverpool a deserved point at Anfield.
As shared by Squawka Football, James Milner made his first Premier League start since Liverpool's 2-2 draw against West Bromwich Albion in December, while Christian Benteke didn't make the starting XI for the hosts:
Liverpool may have entered the contest with a host of injured stars and a handful of poor performances in the rear-view mirror, but the Reds started Wednesday's match on fire, pushing the league leaders back into their own half and dominating possession.
Adam Lallana wanted a penalty after just seven minutes as he went down in the box in a duel with Per Mertesacker, but the official didn't budge. Just minutes later, Firmino opened the scoring after Petr Cech failed to deal with a strong shot from Emre Can, pushing the ball right to the Brazilian.
Per KICK TV, Firmino made a big mistake celebrating his goal, however:
Arsenal were shocked by Liverpool's quick start and barely got a foot on the ball, but with their first look on goal, the Gunners equalised. Joel Campbell beautifully played Ramsey in on goal, and the Welshman stayed calm to convert the chance, tying things up.
Anfield almost fell silent, as the home fans couldn't believe Arsenal got back on level terms after such a blistering start to the match, but the silence was short-lived. Liverpool pushed right back up the pitch in search of a second goal, and before long, Firmino struck again.
Showing some quick feet, the midfielder turned into some space before unleashing a thunderous strike from outside the box, finding the top corner to score one of the best goals of the 2015-16 season.
Bleacher Report's Sam Tighe was shocked:
Per Squawka Football, Wednesday's clash was a coming-out party for the Brazilian:
The Reds continued to push forward and Alberto Moreno hit the crossbar from an offside position, but gradually, Arsenal started to put together a few chances as well. Mamadou Sakho cleared a ball off the line after Ramsey flicked it over Simon Mignolet, and from the resulting corner, the visitors equalised again.
Ramsey lifted the ball into the box and Giroud provided the finish, although Mignolet could have done better.
DW Sports' Stefan Bienkowski couldn't help himself:
Giroud should have given the Gunners the lead almost immediately after, as dreadful defending from the Reds handed the Frenchman an open opportunity from just a few yards out. Somehow, Giroud managed to steer the ball away from the open goal and back toward the penalty spot.
Even BBC Sport's Phil McNulty had to compose himself after the miss:
Liverpool's defending on set pieces remains a work in progress, evidenced by another chance the Gunners managed after a couple of flicks nearly landed in the net.
The tempo of the match finally started to drop a bit toward the end of the first half, although the Reds threatened Cech on two more occasions, twice failing to find the man in the middle after promising runs from Moreno and Lallana, respectively.
The final Arsenal chance of the half fell to Theo Walcott, but his shot took a deflection and went wide, while Firmino also came close to scoring another with a nice shot from the turn.
At half-time, Bleacher Report UK weighed in on the action:
Arsenal wasted little time to start the second half, as Mesut Ozil found Campbell, who couldn't keep his volley on target. On the other side of the pitch, Moreno tried to do the same, with similar results, as his shot flew well over the bar.
Where Liverpool were the better team in the first half, Arsenal came out of the dressing room with more fire, and they were rewarded after 55 minutes. Making up for his earlier miss, Giroud took a ball from Campbell and powered a finish into the bottom corner, handing the Gunners their first lead.
England international Gary Lineker is a fan of the France international:
Campbell also made a fantastic impression at Anfield, as the young Costa Rican continues to impress. With Alexis Sanchez still out due to injury, Campbell has become one of the biggest revelations of the last few weeks.
Manager Jurgen Klopp decided to change things up and brought on Benteke for Milner after 66 minutes, and Liverpool started to push forward again. Firmino came close to completing his hat-trick after a lovely ball from Moreno, but his header missed the target.
Laurent Koscielny did well to dive in front of Lallana after Firmino found space for a cross out wide, and Cech held tight to stop a shot from Benteke, with the rain now pouring down.
McNulty liked what he saw from the Reds:
Liverpool's last-minute assault on Cech's goal seemed like it would come to nothing until Benteke won a header, with the ball falling to Allen, who smashed it home to secure a draw.
It was a fair result to what had been an exciting and even match, but the draw hardly helps either side. Arsenal could have opened up a five-point lead over Manchester City in the standings, but instead, they now share first place with Leicester City.
Liverpool can be proud of the way they fought back to earn the draw, but the Reds still sit just ninth in the standings.
As one might expect, the Arsenal players and Wenger were quite disappointed with the way the final minutes went down. Kristian Walsh of the Liverpool Echo shared this comment from the manager:
Speaking to BT Sport (h/t Football Insider's Alex Stevens), Giroud didn't hold back, either:
It is disappointing because we were 3-2 up one minute from the end of the game. It was a nice game for the fans because of the intensity and there were a lot of chances to score.
But when you lose three goals in an away game it is hard to win these games. We should have been stronger at the end because we did well in the second half.
The striker did praise his team's character for the way they came back twice from a deficit.