Nketiah scores hat trick as Arsenal routs last-place Sheffield United
LONDON (AP) — Eddie Nketiah scored his first Premier League hat trick as Arsenal brushed aside last-place Sheffield United 5-0 on Saturday to keep pace in the title race.
The England striker made sure Arsenal didn’t miss the injured Gabriel Jesus as he opened the scoring in the 28th minute from close range and completed his hat trick in the 58th with a fierce shot from outside the area to put Arsenal 3-0 up.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Nketiah said. “To top it off with a hat trick was really nice, and it was a good shot from outside the box."
Substitute Fabio Vieira netted the fourth from the penalty spot in the 88th and Takehiro Tomiyasu completed the rout deep into stoppage time from a corner.
Jesus had been the architect of Arsenal's win at Sevilla in the Champions League in midweek with a goal and an assist, but also sustained a hamstring injury that is expected to sideline the Brazilian for a few weeks.
That gave Nketiah another chance to impress and he made full use of it against a team that has now conceded a league-high 29 goals in 10 games.
In a tepid first half that saw Arsenal continually pass the ball around but struggling to break down a compact defense, Nketiah broke the deadlock when Declan Rice picked him out in the area and the striker used one touch to go past a defender and the second to slot the ball past goalkeeper Wes Foderingham.
The second came five minutes after the halftime break, when Foderingham flailed at a corner and the ball landed at the feet of Nketiah, who hammered it into the far corner.
The 24-year-old Arsenal academy product saved the best for last, collecting a pass from Emile Smith Rowe and setting himself up for a shot from 25 yards that he smashed into the top corner.
The striker, who received his first England call-up earlier this season, celebrated by kissing the yellow game ball and lifting it to the sky with one hand as the Emirates crowd chanted his name.
“In games like this when it’s tight, it’s about staying patient, staying in the right areas, arriving in the right areas,” Nketiah said.
Arsenal was awarded a penalty after a lengthy VAR review for a foul on Vieira as he broke into the area, and the Portuguese midfielder stepped up to the spot himself to slot in the fourth. Tomiyasu was then on hand to slot home the fifth after a corner in the sixth minute of added time.
The win keeps Arsenal two points behind leader Tottenham. Defending champion Manchester City can draw level with the Gunners on 24 points by beating crosstown rival Manchester United in Sunday's derby.
Sheffield United is the only team yet without a win in the Premier League and is in last place with one point.
Ben White nearly netted a fourth for Arsenal in the 62nd when he drew a good save from Foderingham, who had also pulled off a good stop to deny Gabriel Martinelli in the first half.
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