England star Kelly Smith stole the show with a hat-trick as Arsenal drew with London rivals Charlton Athletic in a six-goal thriller.

The hosts shocked Arsenal with two goals inside 10 minutes through Sarah Snare and the first of two stunning strikes from Eniola Aluko. The Addicks then should have extended their lead before half-time but some wasteful finishing saved the visitors and gave them a chance to regroup.

Arsenal made a perfect start to the second half when England midfielder Smith slid the ball past helpless Addicks goalkeeper Pauline Cope and opened her account for the evening.

Soon after though, Charlton had restored their two-goal advantage when Aluko scored her second stunning long-distance strike of the game.

Yet Arsenal were soon back into the game. They were awarded a penalty after Smith was brought down by the slightly unlucky Karen Hills. Smith duly converted the spot-kick to set up an exhilarating finish to a superb match.

Just two minutes later, Charlton were reduced to 10 players following the dismissal of Emma Coss for elbowing Gemma Davison during a tussle in midfield.

Then, deep into stoppage time, Smith completed her hat-trick with a sublime solo effort and, in doing so, gained Arsenal a hard-earned point in a game which Charlton will argue they deserved to win.

After the final whistle of this dramatic top-of-the-table encounter, hat-trick hero Smith said: "We are delighted that we have pulled a point back, but our first-half performance was simply not good enough."

The draw means that Charlton top the league, one point ahead of Everton in second. Arsenal, meanwhile, are in fourth place but they do have two games in hand over their London rivals.

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20 Oct 2005