England: Arsenal held to draw by Norwich in Premier League
LONDON (AP) -- Arsenal's hopes of automatic Champions League qualification were hit Saturday when Norwich clinched a thrilling 3-3 draw in the Premier League to spoil Arsene Wenger's 900th match in charge of the north London club.
Steve Morison struck an 85th-minute equalizer for Norwich to leave third-place Arsenal with just a two-point advantage over Tottenham and Newcastle, who both play on Sunday.
Robin van Persie looked to have sealed a valuable comeback win for Arsenal when he equaled Thierry Henry's Arsenal record of 30 goals in a Premier League season with a late double inside eight minutes before Morison's leveler.
Yossi Benayoun had put Arsenal ahead after just two minutes, but goals from Wes Hoolahan and Grant Holt put Norwich in front at halftime.
The point lifted Norwich to 13th in the standings.
Arsenal looked to be on course for a win when Benayoun marked his 32nd birthday with the opening goal. The Israel international picked the ball up on the left side of the Norwich penalty area, cut inside and curled a shot over goalkeeper John Ruddy into the far corner.
That should have settled any nerves for Arsenal, but instead, the visitors were galvanized.
The equalizer came in the 12th minute after Kyle Naughton raced forward down the left flank and played the ball through to Hoolahan on the penalty spot. The Ireland midfielder did not connect properly with his shot but it was enough to squirm past goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and across the line.
Norwich went ahead in the 27th after a quick break saw Hoolahan release Holt at the edge of the Arsenal area. As Arsenal defender Kieran Gibbs backed off, Holt's shot caught the defender's boot and looped over Szczesny and into the net.
Arsenal's afternoon took another turn for the worse in the 33rd when defender Bacary Sagna pulled up with a calf injury and had to be replaced by Francis Coquelin.
The visitors felt they should have been awarded a penalty when Coquelin upended Hoolahan following another quick break down the right flank.
It could have been 3-1 in first-half stoppage time but for a perfectly timed sliding challenge by Koscielny to block Holt's close-range effort.
There was more purpose about Arsenal in the second half, but as the hour mark passed, Van Persie failed to beat Ruddy with a tame strike from 12 meters (yards) before Aaron Ramsey dragged his shot wide.
The Wales midfielder was replaced in the 63rd minute by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as Wenger looked to inject some much-needed impetus into his side.
It was Van Persie who made the breakthrough, though, in the 72nd when he perfectly timed his run to meet Alex Song's clever pass and sidefoot a volley across Ruddy.
And Van Persie looked to have won it when he smashed in his 30th league goal. The captain's 80th-minute strike needed some luck as the ball deflected into his path, but he finished with accuracy.
But Arsenal was caught out five minutes later by a ball over the top and Morison ran on to slot past Szczesny.
There was still time for Ruddy to deny Van Persie with a fine close-range block before a clear push by Naughton in the back of the striker as he looked to tap in at the far post went unpunished.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Ducks fend off Blackhawks for shootout victory
Hurricanes stage surprising rally against Sharks