English Soccer: Benayoun scores 2 but Arshavin dents Liverpool's title hopes
Benayoun saves Benitez's blushes with injury time equalizer vs Arsenal.
By JEREMY LAST
Yossi Benayoun scored twice for Liverpool while Andrey Arshavin grabbed a stunning four goals for Arsenal in a breathtaking 4-4 Premier League draw at Anfield on Tuesday.
The Russian put the Gunners 1-0 up in the first half and then replied for Arsene Wenger's team each time Liverpool went ahead.
The result puts Liverpool in a precarious position, joint on points with Manchester United at the top of the league but with the knowledge that its northwest England rival has two games in hand, including against Sunderland at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening.
The lead kept on changing hands at Anfield, and Arshavin was sure he had scored the winner in the 91st minute, when Arsenal led 4-3, only to see Israel captain Benayoun leap in and volley home the equalizer two minutes later.
Liverpool started the brightest, showing a sense of urgency which reflected its battle for a first league title in nearly 20 years. Benayoun was having one of his best games of the season, proving to be a handful for the visiting defense while also tracking back at the other end.
The first real chance of the game fell to Fernando Torres who forced a super save out of Lukasz Fabianksi when he fired in an effort from the right corner of the box with 18 minutes on the clock. So, it was somewhat against the run of play when Arsenal took the lead.
Cesc Fabregas took advantage of a Javier Mascherano mistake on the edge of the area to cross to Arshavin, who made no mistake from the edge of the six-yard box in the 37th minute.
Benayoun very nearly hit back almost immediately when he went on a slalom run into the box and shot towards Fabianski's right, only to see the goalie produce a last-gasp save.
The equalizer came four minutes into the second half. Torres leapt high above the Arsenal defenders and headed home a quality Kuyt cross to raise the excitement level inside Anfield.
Ten minutes later and Liverpool had taken the lead through none over than Benayoun who dived at another Kuyt cross. Although Fabianski managed to get a hand at the ball and palm it out of the net, it had clearly crossed the line and the goal was given.
The atmosphere was reaching fever pitch, but it was punctured in the 67th minute when Alvaro Arbeloa made a terrible defensive error, heading straight into the path of the oncoming Arshavin, who scored his second of the night and made the score 2-2.
And Anfield was stunned two minutes later when another mistake at the back, this time by Fabio Aurelio, gifted Arshavin his third.
But the game was far from over. It took another two minutes for Torres to pounce and equalize, turning brilliantly and beating Fabianski to make it 3-3. Arshavin thought he had the last word in the 91st minute, running on to a Theo Walcott pass to smash the ball into Reina's net.
But Benayoun would not stop running, and scored with a minute left to ensure the Reds kept a share of the points.
The battle for the Premier League will continue on Wednesday night when Chelsea welcomes its FA Cup final opponent Everton.
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