Liverpool’s Joe Allen scored a last-minute equaliser to salvage a point in Wednesday’s thrilling 3-3 draw with Arsenal at Anfield.
Roberto Firmino opened the scoring with a crisp left-footed drive after Petr Cech parried Emre Can’s powerful effort, before Aaron Ramsey equalised with a neat finish three minutes later.
Firmino then restored Liverpool’s lead after curling a superb 25-effort into the top-right corner, but their lead was once again short-lived after Olivier Giroud prodded home from close-range after just 25 minutes of play.
Ten minutes into the second half, Giroud doubled his tally for the game with a clinical finish after skilfully turning Kolo Toure in the Liverpool area.
But it was Allen who grabbed a point in the dying embers of the game with a low finish past a sprawling Cech – his first goal from his only shot on target this season.
Liverpool’s starting line-up had managed just four league goals between them and that was synonymous with their difficulties this season with just 22 in their opening 20 league matches – so there was no suggestion this would be a goal-fest.
But Jurgen Klopp’s preference of Firmino over Christian Benteke, his side’s top goalscorer with seven, was justified as the Brazil international revelled in his false nine role.
His 10th-minute opener, turning to fire home a rebound after Petr Cech parried Emre Can’s shot, for his first Anfield goal since arriving from Hoffenheim in the summer, was the signal for a manic 16 minutes in which four goals of varying quality were scored.
Liverpool’s lead lasted just four minutes as Joel Campbell’s through-ball allowed Ramsey to beat Simon Mignolet at his near post after Mamadou Sakho had lost his position after a clash of heads with Giroud.
The Belgium goalkeeper is on the verge of signing a new five-year contract, but his near-post fallibility – allied to a weakness at set-pieces – was his undoing again for Arsenal’s second equaliser. Giroud deflected in Ramsey’s corner, conceded by Sakho heading out from under his own crossbar after Ramsey’s lob had beaten Mignolet.
That was after Firmino had put the hosts ahead again with a brilliant strike, shifting the ball onto his right foot from a pass from Jordan Henderson – making his first appearance of 2016 having been sidelined with a recurrence of his chronic heel problem – before curling it into the top corner.
Both sides could have scored more before the interval – Mignolet redeemed himself slightly with a bizarre scorpion-type kick while laid on the floor to deny Giroud’s bungled effort when faced with an open goal, before Ramsey failed to connect with a far-post corner and Firmino clipped the bar with a volley.
Giroud’s second, in the 55th minute, came after more flat-footed defending allowed the France international the time to spin and fire inside the far post.
Per Mertesacker blocked one dangerous Adam Lallana shot but Benteke’s introduction did not give Arsenal too many problems – to the extent Klopp sent on newly-signed centre-back Steven Caulker for a debut up front alongside the Belgian for the final five minutes.
However, if the intention was to go long ball it escaped Allen, one of the smallest men in Liverpool’s side, as he popped up at the far post to convert Henderson’s cross.