An own goal from Wolves goalkeeper Jose Sa helped Arsenal complete a dramatic late turnaround in their pursuit of a top-four Premier League place.
For long periods Hwang Hee-chan’s early effort had looked like being decisive for the visitors.
However, Arsenal substitute Nicolas Pepe levelled from Eddie Nketiah’s pass towards the end of a dominant second period in which the hosts had continually pressed for an equaliser.
And as the clock ran down Alexandre Lacazette’s effort was inadvertently touched into his own goal by Sa to spark wild celebrations inside the Emirates stadium.
The result sees Mikel Arteta’s side move up to fifth in the table, just one point behind fourth-placed Manchester United, with two games in hand, while Wolves who were hoping to further their own Champions League ambitions sit in seventh.
“We don’t know today how important this will be but we know the importance of winning our matches,” said Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, who is aiming to guide his team back into Europe’s elite club competition for the first time in five years.
“At the end of May we want to be fighting for those places. After three defeats in the first three games we had to avoid relegation.
“Then we took it game by game and don’t lose sight of the objective with the team. You just have to be consistent with your vision and the way you prepare and believe the result will come.”
Bruno Lage’s side had gone into the contest searching for their sixth win in seven top-flight matches and a fifth successive away victory in the top flight for the first time in 42 years.
They looked well on course when their South Korea international Hwang stole in front of Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale to score from a tight angle early on from Gabriel’s misplaced back pass.
But while they defended resiliently for long periods, Hwang’s miss just after the break and Pedro Neto’s errant late shot with the score at 1-1 proved costly.
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Arsenal’s pressure eventually tells
While Wolves may point to missed opportunities they can ultimately have few complaints over the manner of their defeat.
With Arsenal enjoying more possession and registering more than four times as many shots in the contest, Lage’s side were made to pay for their inability to retain the ball long enough to relieve the pressure they faced, particularly after the break.
Romain Saiss, Conor Coady and Ruben Neves all made telling clearances over the course of the match and will feel aggrieved that their efforts did not bring at least the reward of a point.
Arsenal though should be lauded for their persistence and the belief they retained that they would finally break through a stubborn Wolves defence.
Wolves goalkeeper Sa had been rarely tested until he repelled Lacazette’s 72nd-minute effort at point-blank range but from there the visiting goal came under increased threat.
Pepe’s deserved equaliser came at the end of a flowing move down the right, with Ivory Coast winger expertly placing the ball past Sa and Gunners midfielder Martin Odegaard hit the woodwork before they found a late winner.
Player of the match
Rúben NevesRúben Neves
with an average of 8.71
Squad number19Player namePépé
Squad number8Player nameØdegaard
Squad number9Player nameLacazette
Squad number3Player nameTierney
Squad number30Player nameNketiah
Squad number7Player nameSaka
Squad number5Player namePartey
Squad number4Player nameWhite
Squad number34Player nameXhaka
Squad number32Player nameRamsdale
Squad number35Player nameGabriel Martinelli
Squad number17Player nameCédric Soares
Squad number20Player nameNuno Tavares
Squad number6Player nameGabriel Magalhães
Squad number8Player nameRúben Neves
Squad number26Player nameHwang Hee-Chan
Squad number16Player nameCoady
Squad number10Player nameDaniel Podence
Squad number23Player nameKilman
Squad number3Player nameAït-Nouri
Squad number27Player nameSaïss
Squad number1Player nameJosé Sá
Squad number22Player nameNélson Semedo
Squad number28Player nameJoão Moutinho
Squad number9Player nameJiménez
Squad number7Player namePedro Neto
Squad number19Player nameJonny
Squad number32Player nameDendoncker
- 17Cédric SoaresSubstituted forNketiahat 76′minutes
- 3TierneySubstituted forTavaresat 90+2′minutes
- 7SakaBooked at 38mins
- 35MartinelliSubstituted forPépéat 71′minutes
- 23Sambi Lokonga
- 1Malheiro de Sá
- 22Nélson SemedoSubstituted forCastro Ottoat 61′minutes
- 28João Moutinho
- 10PodenceSubstituted forDendonckerat 90′minutes
- 9JiménezBooked at 89mins
- 26Hwang Hee-ChanSubstituted forNetoat 75′minutes
- 11Machado Trincão
- 17Fábio Silva
- 19Castro Otto
- Martin Atkinson
Match ends, Arsenal 2, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1.
Second Half ends, Arsenal 2, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1.
Offside, Arsenal. Martin Ødegaard tries a through ball, but Eddie Nketiah is caught offside.
Own Goal by José Sá, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Arsenal 2, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1.
Attempt saved. Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Nuno Tavares.
Substitution, Arsenal. Nuno Tavares replaces Kieran Tierney because of an injury.
Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Rúben Neves.
Attempt blocked. Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Leander Dendoncker replaces Daniel Podence.
Raúl Jiménez (Wolverhampton Wanderers) is shown the yellow card.
Martin Ødegaard (Arsenal) hits the bar with a left footed shot from the centre of the box. Assisted by Granit Xhaka.
Attempt missed. Pedro Neto (Wolverhampton Wanderers) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Rayan Aït-Nouri.
Corner, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Conceded by Thomas Partey.
Goal! Arsenal 1, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1. Nicolas Pépé (Arsenal) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Eddie Nketiah.
Nicolas Pépé (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Daniel Podence (Wolverhampton Wanderers).
Substitution, Arsenal. Eddie Nketiah replaces Cédric Soares.
Offside, Wolverhampton Wanderers. José Sá tries a through ball, but Raúl Jiménez is caught offside.
Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Pedro Neto replaces Hwang Hee-Chan.
Offside, Arsenal. Kieran Tierney tries a through ball, but Martin Ødegaard is caught offside.
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