Emmanuel Adebayor struck an 88th-minute winner at Wigan on Wednesday night to send Arsenal up to third in the Premiership.
Just when both sides had begun to settle for a goalless draw, the Togolese striker strode onto a throughball from Cesc Fabregas and planted a shot past Chris Kirkland. Wigan protested that the Spaniard had committed a foul in the build-up but referee Rob Styles allowed the goal to stand.
The scoreline was perhaps harsh on the home side. After a chanceless first half, the game caught fire after the restart with both sides finally creating opportunities. Adebayor spurned a simple chance in front of goal from Theo Walcott's inviting pass. At the other end, Kolo Toure blocked at point-blank range from the effervescent Henri Camara.
However the 21-year-old would have the last laugh at the death.
The travelling fans sang "Ade-bayor" at the final whistle. After goals against Tottenham, Manchester United and now Wigan, the striker's stock is rising at some pace.
Arsenal are set to play weekend-midweek until almost the end of January so it was no surprise to see Arsène Wenger rotate his squad. However slotting in Julio Baptista for his only his second Premiership start and Walcott for his third on the same night was a little more than expected.
In addition, Freddie Ljungberg and Toure came in. Philippe Senderos, Robin van Persie, Fabregas and Alex Hleb were the quartet to make way.
The first half never really got going. Wigan had marginally the better chances but neither keeper muddied their gloves or broke out into a sweat.
Wigan striker Camara was probably the brightest hope of a goal. In the fifth minute, the Senegalese striker turned Gael Clichy on the right and sent a delightful cross to the far post. Fortunately for Arsenal, Johan Djourou nodded the ball away before it reached Emile Heskey.
Five minutes later the Swiss defender did enough to muscle Camara off the ball after he had profited from Lee McCulloch's deflected shot.
Slowly, Arsenal roused themselves. On the quarter-hour Flamini floated a clever cross to the far post and David Wright headed the ball over the bar with Adebayor in close attendance. Soon afterwards Clichy's cross was intercepted just before it reached Ljungberg's head.
However Wigan were to rally before the break. Toure cut down McCulloch's charging run in its prime then Camara hacked a hopeful shot high over the bar.
There was little else to report but then little was going on. Wigan were edging matters, Arsenal were efficient enough in repelling the hosts but failing to mount much in attack. Walcott's raids down the right represented the best hope.
Within two minutes of the restart we had as many chances as in the whole of the opening 45.
Wright just missed a diving header then Camara sent Heskey clear but the former England striker slipped at the crucial moment and Lehmann gathered.
Almost immediately Adebayor's perceptive ball sent Baptista through on the right. The Brazilian's contact was fierce but Chris Kirkland managed to block.
In the 55th minute Gilberto fed Adebayor but the beanpole striker just failed to flick the ball past the advancing Wigan keeper.
Suddenly we had a football match.
A minute later Baptista sent Walcott through on the right. The 17-year-old chose not to go for goal and instead squared for Adebayor. The striker was challenged by Fitz Hall at the crucial moment and the neither made contact. Incredibly the ball trickled harmlessly across the area.
Kevin Kilbane and Josip Skoko thumped long shots at Lehmann. However the trend of the game was going against the home side. Baptista curled a free-kick narrowly wide in the 65th minute.
With 16 minutes left, Wenger brought on Fabregas and Van Persie for Baptista and Flamini.
However the change nearly brought a Wigan goal. Danny Landzaat robbed Gilberto and eventually Skoko forced Lehmann to save low to his left. The ball came out to Camara and Toure blocked his shot from point-blank range.
Ten minutes from time, Van Persie spotted Ljungberg on the left of the area. The Swede forced Kirkland to save low at the near post. Adebayor flashed the follow up across goal. Camara curled a fierce drive just over by way of response.
Adebayor nearly flicked a shot past Kirkland in the 86th minute.
Two minutes later he finally breached the Wigan goal.
- Flamini 74
- Walcott 89
- Julio Baptista 74
- Adebayor Goal!
- Hoyte 89
- Fabregas 74
- van Persie 74
- Wright Yellow Card
- Heskey 67
- Johansson 67